Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Rock Jock And The Man Standing On A Rock: Part One

Thirty three years of "Radio" and the only thing I've got to show for it is an addiction to writing. The average on-air radio show requires "four talk breaks" per hour times a "five hour show" times "six days a week" times "33 years." That's somewhere close to 195,920 times I've interrupted your favorite song. Eventually the crime festers the soul causing a surface level zit like explosion spewing green, white and yellow gooky junk all over the long term intended vision. At least with writing I can turn a horridly punctuated interview with my left hand into a conversation read by internet wanderers in Russia, Sweden, Chili, Egypt and Latvia. The latest Blog ratings reveal 24,212 daily readers. Which is nothing inside the offices of Social Media experts whose livelihoods depend on fingers dumping brain mildew on your computer screen. People that write are Artists. Artists need creativity to breathe. Invisibly Artists project huge waves of truth and change the size of Hurricane Sandy across the frozen tundra, through dried river shores, in between mountain peaks that open to uncultivated valleys carved out by wind, fire and rain. And in the end a circle is met at the center of every new beginning. Try saying that on the radio without a Program Director busting down the door screaming, "Shut up! Just shut the hell up!" I once had an Operations Manager that looked me deep in the eyes and clearly said, "Your energy is too much for me. If you do your job right, I'll never have to come anywhere near you." I bet I've closed my eyes more than 195,920 radio talk breaks and gently asked, "God...what do you want from me?" About three or four times in the average lifespan the typically average human shape crosses paths with other journeyman wearing the same soul but offered through separate experiences. For brief periods of disguised musical notes, business decisions and concept flickering is replaced by harmony which eliminates the need for surface level zit like explosions spewing green, white and yellow gooky junk all over the long term intended visions. What? Exactly! Your greatest moments aren't gone. Only opportunity. How many fingers are held up when taking the time to identify the most influential people in your adult life? The inner eye is forever fixed on the depth of what they offered creating huge holes in a landscaped perception. Nobody else matters! Everybody in the hall is a face you'll easily forget. Let that moment begin now. Gulp! I could write 24,212 pages about Nathan Richie. He's a Social Media Prophet and is treated just like a Bible character. One day the world will stop and listen. I can't predict it! But when it happens just know he's lived it. Which has now earned me 25,001 pages from him on how incredibly out of place that identification was. Jonathan is no different! If what's been made available for spiritual travel would hold off on the preaching and begin teaching this nearly unseen crack in granite might have just enough tork in a spork to spoon feed the weakest of weak and stronger than space with its infinite levels of blackness. Everyday people are incredible books. But we choose to read a Kindle, Nook or IPad instead. A 7.7 earthquake shakes Canada this past Saturday and barely a headlines makes it to the front page of Face Book. Hurricane Sandy sports a Halloween costume resembling the winds of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of OZ and poof we're expected to sweep up her mess. Rather than chase down free offers and 20% off deals at Barnes and Noble...I've decided to dig a ditch through the center of a "human" book titled Jonathan The Moses Of Rock. It seems the closer we get to December 21, 2012 ...the less people are talking about the Mayan Calendar. An economy that won't recover, no real choice for President, now an earthquake and the largest most expensive hurricane. From a Preacher's side of the pulpit; what are we left to think? Jonathan from : The Mayans, as bad ass builders and thinkers that they were (and their descendants are), might have been interested in predicting the end of the world...or maybe they decided that they didn't need more than a few centuries worth of calendar, or maybe their calendar companies just ran out of paper. I wouldn't bet on Dec. 21 being the end, but then, what do I know? I still watch wrestling. I would say, on the basis of real science, that the impact of Sandy might have more to do with rising sea levels than with a mysterious, random and arbitrary, end of the world. Some dumb ass preacher will no doubt say that the storm is God's wrath, but some other dumb ass preacher could also say it's God's way of reminding us that government has a role. Check out U2's song, The End of the World Arroe: It seems completely natural to be instantly drawn to religion during incredible moments of having no control. Is Religion a Peaceful Freedom? Jonathan from : "Peaceful freedom," huh? Religious institutions are messed up because human beings are messed up; sometimes we dress up our "messed up" with religion. I don't think institutions or religion can ever provide freedom because the very word implies a closing of the box. How can an institution be so arrogant to suggest that it, as an institution of messed up individuals, say it has the power to provide peaceful freedom, as if it possesses it? That said, I think that the teachings and events and experiences that inspired the major religious movements all have some peace to offer. Most all of them, at that level, suggest that real peace and real freedom aren't material possessions. When religion isn't coercive, many of them have a lot of peace and a lot of freedom and a lot of peaceful freedom to offer. The problem with religion is that many of the rogue religions have charismatic leaders who exploit their followers, and many of the major ones will face a potential depression from within the prison of their own fears that a depression could cost them their own financial stability. Jesus had a lot to say, for example, about life being more than what we wear or how financially stable we are. In fact, Jesus said a lot about finding the life that is really living--and it was a lot deeper than just morality or going to church and certainly more than the size of a bank account. There are a lot of preachers and religious leaders who stand to lose a lot if we go to back to the recession, or, worse, if the economy collapses--but they won't lose as much as others because most religious institutions are pretty solid financially. Here's the trick, money has always been one of the greatest seductions away from spirituality because money offers the illusion of security and freedom--a fool's gold version of peace. It offers the illusion of the power to control our own destinies which I suppose it does to the extent that it affords the opportunity to build or to travel or "own" stuff. But each of those often function on the backs of someone or something. Real peaceful freedom would have to arise from knowing that we are a part of the bigger narrative of creation and life and soul. One of the things that I soooo dig about Jesus as a teacher is his persistent insistence that there is so much more going on around us than we have ever imagined. Buddhism has made an entire way of life around mindfulness and interconnectedness. If a depression does happen, the people who are truest to what their religions were intended to be will be the beggars showing others where to find the bread, not the ones hoarding their wealth or exploiting others to get more of it. Arroe: Even with modern technology haven't we been retrained to think only the strong survive but only if you have the latest smart phone? Jonathan from : Survival of the fittest? Well, if the fittest are the only ones who survive, then it does include everyone because any "others" have already died or not "survived." Natural selection gets all messed up thanks to free will--and the opposable thumb. No joke. Technology and willfulness create a different level of natural selection. There is something instinctive in human beings, and monkeys, too, that makes us want to care about the weaker members of the pack instead of abandoning them. But free will means that we can choose a life of throwing poo, throwing our weak family members away, or we can choose to throw ourselves into the graceful interconnectedness of life--that's what Gandhi, Jesus, Martin, Siddhartha, and others have taught and lived. We can use the opposable thumb to throw poo and throw spears, or we can use it to stack stones and heap compassion on the world. Arroe: You opened my eyes to taking a better look at the New Age Rock being played on 1065 The End. I'm almost convinced that there's serious Bible thumping happening and or incredible life changing lyrics. Jonathan from : How long have you got....Yes, there are are prophets dressed up as poets, hundreds of them. Music changes us more than we realize. Many of these folks are talking about real life, real stuff. The Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and G & R, for example, all have huge hit songs about homelessness, for example. The Eagles couldn't stop themselves from shining light on excess, exploitation, and over development. Because of their honesty and lack of formal theological training, I think they might actually be more in tune with what the Creator has in mind for us. Hell, folks can ridicule U2 and Bono for being good enough to be popular, but they aren't auto-tuned and what they sing about is real stuff. They are damn good poets, which makes them quite subversive as poets. Tupac was an amazing poet and he surely to show the world what he knew from Baltimore. A prophet, after all, isn't the person who predicts the future but the person who sees most clearly what happens in the present, the trajectory our present puts us on. A long and transcendent guitar solo from Mike McCready is like the staff that parts the seas, though. Shirley Manson's energy and voice and honesty do heal. No way around it. I'm not saying that I want Slash as a social, but surely a social voice--I'd rather attend the worship service that Slash creates than the one Joel Osteen creates; it's more real. I believe that God gave him that remarkable ability to pull something out of his own guts that lifts my soul to some transcendent place. I believe that the mystical sounds of harmony and rhythm and poetry are among the ways God speaks to us without us realizing it. The industry of music is a totally different thing, altogether--talking about depth and substance with honesty is harder than the Pavlovian exercise of seducing folks to buy a product, so maybe we don't need to go down this road. Check this out for a sample of what I mean: Arroe: Through voting we are giving ourselves away. Going to work every day we are giving ourselves away. We've evolved into the generation that has nothing. Jonathan from : Can we talk about this one? the question about having nothing, that is. There is a line in a prayer that I pray that says, "Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield myself to thy pleasure and disposal...thou art mine and I am thine....So be it." Wouldn't we all do better if we could just say, "so be it" instead of trying to control everything? The image that we often get of having nothing is of being pathetic, sad, broken down, destitute. But what if it just means that we aren't possessed by possessions? Maybe then we wouldnt feel like we have to do violence to protect them or get more of them. Nothing, no-thing....hmm. Possession is a really evocative word, isn't it? We give ourselves to that which matters most to us. I'd rather give myself to (allow myself to be possessed by?) a person I love than to an inanimate object or some abstract notion of power made tangible. But it's tricky because that kind of vulnerability is easily exploited--see also abusive relationships. But love and trust are hard to embrace when opposed to wealth and power--they are no things (nothings). Yet, when you've really been possessed by love, by absolute trust, all the money and power in the world can't compare.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Money Might Buy Time But Not Gratefulness

Whoa...this quote from Rhonda Byrne will bite you in the south side of a donkey walking north, "No matter what your current situation, the very thought that you don't have enough money is being "ungrateful" for the money you do have." Can you handle a new impossibility? That set you up for failure didn't it? In her book The Magic, Rhonda reintroduces us to less weight more gain. Your chest already has enough piled on it! Stop treating yourself like every boss in Corporate America! Get your mind out of the "current" and into "grateful." What? The quickest way to my "anger" button is a conversation about money. Compared to my performance in the squared circle Rick Flair and Hulk Hogan are interns. While growing up, Dad physically made sure "financial speak" was never wasted at the dinner table. We had nothing and during those late 60's he had no inspiration to chase down American fads to keep his young ones happy or looking good at Ponderosa elementary school. My heart tingles when the lion colored eyes lock onto a lost penny. Rhonda continues, "The subject of money can be a tricky. Managing your thinking engine keeps the fuel off the fire. Being honest with yourself helps the inner core of your faceless beast to find enough air to breathe." Don't think of your present situation. Put energy in who you were as a child and answer these questions. 1. Did you always have food to eat? 2. Did you live in a home? 3. Did you receive an education over many years? 4. How did you travel to school? 5. Did you have a bike or toys? 6. Did you have clothes your growing body could climb into? 7. Did you go to the movies or play sports or a musical instrument? 8. Did you go to the doctor or dentist? 9. Did you have toothpaste and soap? 10. Did you watch television or listen to music? Stop! I can't be the only one that just shot through a billion hidden away memories. Every question put me in a corner with no extremely loud dogs barking away potential intruders. In The Magic, the lesson...if that's what you wanna call it... The lesson teaches the invisible self holding the keys to your deepest anger that everything you did as a child required money. You might have been convinced that the family didn't have much but in reality the essentials were covered. But have you ever been "grateful" toward what your parents did provide? Another way to show some love is to write in large letters on a dollar bill: Thank you for all the money I've been given through my life." Put it in your pocket and take note of the number of times you'll be tempted to spend it. 1977 in Billings, Montana...teen idol Leif Garrett was in town. While walking through the Yellowstone County Fair I took note of the clean cut blonde haired kid playing festival games. I being a music junky had to get a signature. No paper nor pen. From my pocket I whipped out a dollar bill. On a ground a chunk of burnt firewood. While sharing his name with me a bigger kid walked up and said, "Your wasting a dollar bill on this guy?" Leif turned around and said, "You know what's great? He'll never be broke again." I still have that dollar bill. But I've spent every dollar the grandparents stuffed into birthday cards. Preachers, teachers, Mom's and overweight uncles constantly remind us even in adult shoes how money doesn't grow on trees. Although the $10,000 Silver Dollar Bar in Western Montana makes money making look so easy...rarely is there a day that we aren't challenged by someone always needing more cha ching. My poor mother had five children of her own and three more were added to the plate through marriage. 8 x I Want It Now = Peace. I never saw her worry about having a lack of green. I blamed it on her being raised on a ranch in the greasy grass of Wyoming. Farmers know how to cultivate every shade of soil. What if the missing nutrient in your dirt is "gratefulness?" I once knew a man that washed his money daily. Written off as being a mental sickness...I found it to be incredibly inspiring. Then again I feed rivers and lakes full of sanity each time I meet a new tree. I walk up to it and listen to the stories it caught while chasing clouds. I can't fathom the chapters a dollar bill could write! I bet it would never go all out TMZ while explaining where it's been and how long it took to reach you. It's money! People love it. A dollar bill is never lonely. People are... hmmmmm

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stop Listening To Music While You Work!

In her "Artist Way" books Julia Cameron challenges her creative students to locate a hole in the wall coffee shop then put pen to paper. Now that Starbucks has inspired a flood of entrepreneurial caffeine shops to pop up on every corner; the task of locating a release through methods of writing seems easy... Not for me! The voices in my head don't need competition. Just because I'm in radio doesn't mean I enjoy noise. There's more energy in Rush Limbaugh's pregnant pauses then a stereotyped lopsided point of political direction. Try this trick in a Radio station commercial production room and the untrained totally disconnected client will uncomfortably mumble, "I know what I want..." Then complain the system of sound located in the front seat of your car doesn't work. Really? Why not just listen to the great words of Andy Warhol, "Instead of wasting money on art...tape ten thousand dollars to the wall and get a daily view how financially strong you are." All weekend, every news channel, Hurricane Sandy. Sales were down at malls. Attendance at movie theaters slid. Not just in New York and Jersey but from Miami to Nova Scotia. So much noise was being pumped up and out that it began to infect our process of decision making. Thank God we have the Weather Channel and CNN! During tragic times I find myself diving into well weighted fear, wondering how people 100 years ago learned to deal with natural occurrences. The problem today...with so much mind blowing technology designed to keep you instantly informed "Sound" becomes the addiction. I'd love to see the weekend Monster and Red Bull sales numbers. There's no need for a synthetic high when Momma Natures ripping up the tide. I was shocked at how many people at church couldn't put their Google Aps away. Which brings me to Lou Solomon's book Say Something Real... Lou writes: Silence holds enough power to say everything, if you allow it to. This isn't easy. Silence requires the unthinkable--to do nothing, to just be in the moment. All this talk about Hurricane Sandy did you know there was a 7.7 earthquake in Canada on Saturday? Too much noise leads to tune out. Now toss in another natural occurrence; we're getting back that hour of sleep we lost in the spring. Sadly, falling back sixty ticks still won't convince people to be on time. According to Lou we don't allow much room in our lives to practice silence. Whoa! Practice silence? Could this be what's wrong with Carolina Panther Cam Newton? His passion to play ball is so loud that he's got no room to learn better ways to handle fourth quarter stress. We talk on cell phones. We talk on Face Book. We talk at work with coworkers about the potential of the budget meetings sweeping your life and style into a much different direction. We love our Itunes and YouTube. We can't get enough of Modern Family and Honey Boo Boo. So what are you doing for you? Radio sales people and ad agencies make fun of my style of commercial producing, calling it a weird collection of obnoxiousness. Spend five to 30 minutes within my imagination and I'll introduce you to every reason why the music of the 50's and 60's refuse to be erased from society. Dubbed by other producers as an "Arroe-ism" the journey is to heighten the interest of listening rather than taking a big word dump on their already busy day. Lou Solomon gives us a different view of this painting; when we talk and talk...the actuality is...we don't allow ourselves to properly breathe. Being one that's produced thousands of voices while erasing millions of breaths assumed hidden between thoughts...let me be one of the first that exposes: You breathe even while saying, "You're full of ______." Lou believes we should be practicing the art of pocket silence. Let those around us complete their thoughts. Stop rushing in to conversation. Speak slowly, naturally and with gentle pauses. The true meaning of words comes from silence. Silence allows you to make something simple incredibly brilliant. It requires the collaboration of the deliverer and the listener for there to be an impact that could influence or inspire someone outside your rib cage to move forward. Solomon explains, "Your pauses are as important as the particular words you use." I personally get in more trouble when demanding the conversation to reach its peak two seconds after its beginning. Just tell me the facts so can I can professionally react then get back to creating. It's when the conversation grows beyond 2 minutes that my heart begins to scream at the self I've grown into, "You failure! You're a loser! What the "F" ever made you think you understood this ****? National award? For what? The only thing you need an award for is stupidity." Why do I spend so much time in Broadcasting schools and on University Campuses teaching commercial production? Even if the students never make it into Radio or Television they'll have the common sense to realize thirty seconds of words gather more support if what's been presented doesn't look and sound like a highway billboard. Having a lot of money doesn't guarantee you a quality commercial. Knowing how to reach people begins with studying the listening habits and behavior of the people you want in your store. Staining your chapters with old methods convinces those below you to never trust in the greatest mediums of message delivery. It starts with understanding the power of Silence...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Stop Expecting Romney and Obama To Heal America

In his book "The Charge" author Brendon Burchard clears the air with a stay at home truth, "The American workforce is no longer fooled by the usual trappings of success." When was the last time you compared notes? At 16, the owner of the Muzzle Loader Cafe in Billings, Montana invited me to join his team through an offer of free hamburger steak dinners before every shift. Followed by, "But I can only pay you $2.25 an hour plus tips." How I got into Radio thirty three years ago wouldn't earn me a visit beyond the receptionist today. Having passion, drive, loyalty and determination is weight. Department heads and consultants label "Ability" excess luggage not a fresh sack of tools that can be finely tuned. I wish I could teach Radio the way Andrew Ashwood, Bill Conway and Neal Sharp invited success. They inspired you to dream big. You can make it beyond Lewistown, Montana if you try this. My Broadcasting lectures begin with a hard hitting reality, "How much did you fork out to be in this class? Why? You should've taken that money and bought advertising. Money buys you 60 seconds of time. Being a start up jock might get you a six second break over the intro of a song you'll hear 5 billion times." I'm not being negative! If the American workforce is no longer fooled by the usual trappings of success, more Radio people need to stand up and show off their scars. Presidents and those hoping to become don't control the Unemployment Rate... Call a spade a spade. Future employment is a no show because those hiring fear beyond control that whom they hire could very easily be "Their" replacement. Therefore, through evolution the idea of offering a personal investment weakens then wilts before becoming dust in the wind. Technology hasn't been developed we have. Through the hourly use of Smart Phones, IPads and other electronic devices our steps of current behavior are stereotypically oversaturated with abundance. Why should anyone pay you what you're worth if you've already got everything? Here's a view from my side of the planet: Radio program directors no longer offer great take home pay. They can't! Budgets are the biggest joke. Not just in radio but all shapes of business when there isn't money everybody settles for tenth best, then bitches and moans about losing grip of what the company once had. Ryan Seacrest will never find his name in a book of Radio's Greatest Communicators. He's compared to Dick Clark. He isn't Dick Clark. The Best of the Best no longer exist in any business. Brendon Burchard believes our modern lives simply don't function based solely on the same considerations of security and sustenance any more, nor do we see our path to self actualization the same way we saw it a generation ago. Wait! Don't even think about blaming your boss for this mishap in American Culture! This is the abundance crap I was just talking about comes into play. We've been offered so many choices in our stream of success that society has elected to skip tradition and settle. Burchard believes the basic human instinct to locate security frees the brain from growing forward. Without novelty, challenge, connection and expression...this nation continues to sleep like a giant black bear in the center of winters worst bite. Personal and professional lives aren't supposed to mix! Separation between Church and State isn't just a God versus Government game purchased at Wal-Mart. You'd hate camping with me! While nature kisses the shores of incredibly beautiful mountain lakes with fish the size of ears are fixed to I Heart Radio. Not for the music. I study every commercial in every market. I'm hooked on this idea that one day the missing needle in a haystack will be located and in my palms will rest the ultimate Radio commercial that listeners couldn't tune out of. I can't master that plan sitting in a studio pasting Keith Hawthorne's voice together. My escapes into the real world are physical classroom sessions in a dysfunctional bewilderment of lost dreams and reasons why we should find work anywhere. The typical night out at The Comedy Zone isn't to find laughter. I'm addicted to art of listening to vocal delivery. Comedian's know how to get through a patrons bad day. When I pull into Taco Bell at 2am I find great pleasure in communicating through the speaker with the order taker. The goal is to get them to talk about the items on the menu. I find value in listening to what they know and if its strong enough I'll be convinced to buy into the idea. The American workforce is no longer fooled by the usual trappings of success. Why should I give my life away to big business when the real payoff is learning how to be me without carrying the job in my heart? There's no man or woman named President that has the knowledge to fix the workplace because it doesn't exist. I have to agree with Brendon's working conditions are nothing more than carrots being dangled in front of a rabbit. You might be promised more but bigger names in bigger lines will always figure out reasons why you didn't get this month's bonus. Stop reaching for that fucking carrot and get on with your life! Why cry about it...your body isn't making more tears. The American workforce is no longer fooled by the usual trappings of success.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

So What If Your Mom's Ugly! That Doesn't Make You Cute!

Is it the lingering Presidential and Statewide elections? Can it be blamed on hourly unsteady walks through the American economy? Might the true Shades of Gray be mental states once dubbed depression but methods of Political Correctness has forced body language to rename its game? It may take an entire village to raise a child but something seriously goes wrong when 3/4's of the embodiment is dressed for battle. We've all seen the music video where the main subject stands still while the rest of the world races by. Welcome to October 2012. Rather than get involved we've grown seriously tired of pulling along. Once assumed safe places no longer provide shelter. Office cliques and family gatherings feed into the stress. Therefore the journey has evolved into solo projects without a backup band to create a symphony of soundtracks. The separation between the generations is more defined more than any time. Gen Xer's were on to something in the 90's. I can do this without your help. It may take a week to get out of this darkness but the idea of reaching for your fingerprints physically sickens me. "Grunge" wasn't just was and still is a lifestyle. Although it's become more Retro than Madonna, "Grunge" opened the avenues to better deal with inner challenges without revealing what keeps the inner circle moving. When it comes to how we truly feel and deal with current issues in America, we've mastered the art of the liar. Little white lies might temporarily lift you out of the pit but the long term experience instantly unwraps its negative energy during unexpected chapters put into play by the scent of perfume in a cheap section of Wal-Mart. I walked by 30 people in the gym last night. I met none of them in the eyes. HOW DO YOU LIKE IT WHEN PEOPLE WRITE IN CAPITOL LETTERS? Then uncross your's sending the same signal. Ok enough bitching about who we've become. It's time to get up and wipe the dirt off what little knees we have left. Religion isn't going to put money in the bank. Family bitterness stinks far worse than a dead owl alongside the highway. Being the Almighty Broken Heart Fixer doesn't make you happier but rather more miserable than the person you're attempting to heal. Rule number one: For the love of God please remove your reasons for putting so much thought into your troubles. It's incredibly difficult! The poison shot from bad memories or regret destroys future steps. You can't escape a past you can't change. Cloris Leachman has the best outlook: They are pages in a different chapter and should be treated as such. Rule number two: When depression, sadness or sever challenge set's completely natural to want to run. Get into the act of no longer depending on Smart Phones, MP3 players and iPod's. They don't serve you but rather enable the sickness. Happiness doesn't rein in unlit rooms blessed with flat screens and the internet. Julia Cameron was brilliant in her teachings when leading me toward a physical letting go of what gives modern people mental highs. People magazine is a drug. It feeds into your low moments by giving you a reason to compare your bad day with someone famous. I'm in radio and can't beg you enough to stop listening. It kills me to see someone brag of the good times once had while jamming out to Foreigner, Bob Seger or Jimmy Buffet. You can't discover new things if your eyes are constantly attached to the path labeled this is where I've been. I hate digital cameras! Preacher Jonathan said it best in our last recording session: We'll never locate that moment again. So why are you hanging on to it? Rule number three: Because I grew up hating my surroundings in Montana...I found hourly highs in the art of locating positive. What's wrong with that? Really? Positive is nothing more than an attitude. Why fake it? I write every day before sunrise to locate one answer: why am I in this mood today? Digging identifies a past that I no longer want to live therefore I'm able to sweep the floor in my inner closet. When was the last time you woke up and located something that made you appreciate life? I melt when my Chinese Crested Sami sits next to me then reaches out with a single paw and puts it on my left arm. He's holding me! Rule number four: Technology has gifted every one of us to do things that make us happy. Stop just doing it and put some thought into the procedure! Don't just think happy thoughts while hanging out with happy people...learn to participate with the entire parade. Happiness is the best drug and you don't have to wait for an ABC store to open to find it. If you're like doesn't matter how great the times, the slightest most stupid things send your gut back to the dark chapters. Why didn't my first marriage work? What if I hadn't performed that night would Harold be alive today? If I had stayed true to my original dream of becoming an architect and chose to listen to every nightmare about Radio...would I have fewer wrinkles in my heart? See how easy it is to destroy a great day! I can't stand drama Queens! I'm still not over the drama on last night's episode of 2 Broke Girls. Let go! Don't even think about forcing yourself to laugh...we do that crap in Radio and there are too many fakes pumping through your car stereo! My universal brother and sister Maggie and Tom recently asked about my music. Before they could dot an I and cross a gut reaction was to get them off the subject. The quickest way to invite physical anger and hatred to the surface is to get me on the subject of the songs. As much as I pretended to be in concert as a kid and through adulthood during times of tremendous concert stadium took shape without shades of gray. Yet mental doctors and highly priced people of tremendous healing believing when people sing, dance and act out anything and everything they begin to laugh, smile and wink - do what it takes to rip yourself away from a daily addiction to clutching your stomach for it only steers the tears down your cheeks! Author Steven Furtick puts it a different way, "Stop asking for blessings and realize how important life becomes when you show up to the party prepared. Waking up a doing a day is an automatic throw away. Preparation is no different than learning how to play the guitar. You don't suddenly break out in Stairway To Heaven...just as much as you will never start a Radio career doing a morning show in market number 24. Prepare for market 393 and grow toward the success. It ends up being some of the most incredible stories shared while sitting around a campfire. I will always believe in you first...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"What If" versus "So This..."

(Place movie trailer voice here) In a world where destination no longer determines the length of quality...lives an information addicted morally starving generation that grows wide with propaganda. Barely a soul is capable of cooking the scent of reality into dreams settling instead for manmade agendas salt and peppered with accusations of failure, deceit and defeat. (Place Will Smith picture here) Only one man. One sliver of untouched time... The stroke of a pen placed upon an old fashioned sheet of paper. He signs not his name but the identity of every passerby aimlessly seeking without knowing. Seeking what? Exactly... (Fade into a city skyline toward a window covered by what looks like extremely expensive drapes but it ends up being old newspapers) What? You thought I'd forget about the fifth and final "Mindfulness" lesson? Quick! Double click! Head to the next webpage blessed with bright teeth, eyes the size of Rhode Island and sales so incredibly unheard of that every Radio commercial will brag of it being one of a kind, never again will prices be this low and by the way...did you know we've been in business for 52 years? I'm trying to give you a reason to tune out! Mindfulness is awareness. For the past week it's been my attempt to not preach but share separate rivers of escape without having to elude to a need. Inside a poetic breath I give you the first four: 1. Cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect other living things. 2. Being aware of how we steal from others. 3. Learning ways to protect the safety, integrity and happiness of you and others. 4. Being aware of the suffering caused by the way we speak while developing better habits of listening. Do you happen to know the person that might be able to relate with this verbal junk? I mean come on...with video games, IPad's and Pod's...who gives a rats butt about what is and isn't? We live only once right? Max out the credit card! Find me some spicy ass Spanish food and lets wash it down with Marsh Mellow flavored Vodka chased with a Red Bull! The sentence I want to write will now be invisibly put here because it will earn so much judgment of my character that no matter what I've done as an artist, there's never going to be enough canvas' displayed that'll help me ignore criticism. When you sit and "Listen" to one or two hundred travelers locked in hospital rooms, their final focus isn't lifted by the presence of "What if" but rather stimulated by "So this..." Break it down. "What if" versus "So this..." It's two completely different people! So much time and energy was wasted on chasing "What if" that in the end..."So this" becomes the best we had to offer. 5. Being aware of unmindful consumption. Not just food but how you handle stress. Not just the best flat screen and sofa on earth but how you digest "I can't" The fifth lesson gets totally tortured by what we label consumption; alcohol, too much internet, never forgiving the boss, sister, coworker or innocent bank teller just doing their job. GM Andrew once shouted out to his struggling Radio staff, "I need you to put God first! Then family! Then your job! There's no better way to succeed in helping me locate listeners." Instantly I jerked! It shot across the conference room table faster than a California quake. A thumb tack had just been shoved into the corners of my eyelids. I'm a very shy person! Yet this day forever fuels the depth of our perception. Leaders that scold you for not putting the important stuff ahead of your job only to threaten you with termination when overtime pay becomes part of the game. "How is this possible?" I interrupted Andrew. "I'm expected to give you 12 to 16 hours a day in this place infested with mushrooms and peeling paint. Signs hang over the water fountain ordering us to not drink from it. The control rooms have no air conditioning. And for some reason you think I've got time for God and family?" 5. Being aware of "Unmindful" consumption. Fear, anger and confusion do more damage to your day than Monster drinks and Snickers bars. Nobody practices a daily diet of digesting positive energy and or working on becoming aware of what rapes you of the one thing you truly own: Identity, Integrity, Independence and Individualism. (Place Will Smith back into the frame) When was the last time someone looked at who and what you are and took note of the identity you never display unless you're home alone and nobody's watching? A lot has been written about your weaknesses. Presidential elections depend on the undecided. The moment you sign Will Smith's sheet of white paper the painting becomes complete: just another name of someone that so easily gave their life away. You are the only person that can hear yourself screaming. Why? Because everybody else is screaming and rarely does another person's scream out scream what's being screamed. No matter what...... "What if" is going to lead to "So This..." The least you can do is be proud of who you became before the rules of life took your name off that page. I will always believe you first....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Being Politically Correct Takes Us Out Of The History Books

The most difficult part about doing "Series" Blogging is staying true to the rules of movie sequels. The writer must constantly keep readers abreast to the origin while daring the journey to accept unexpected twists that may or may not send followers over the edge. The AM Talk Radio host that invisibly convinces me to stay longer is a Master at re-setting the subject, identifying the points of interest while never letting me forget the identity of the person being interviewed. Face Book and Twitter are brilliant displays of "Raw Series Blogging." The problem is...I rarely get enough of the deeper positioning. The moment I lose interest, it's off to another exposure! Knowing how we live, eat and breath...try selling this concept of Social Networking to a Radio advertiser locked on the idea that highway billboards and CNN captivate the generation that can't stop moving. I would love to write about "Mindfulness" in 140 characters and be off with my day! Where was Twitter when the journey to stretch ink across three blood sucking outrageously out of control pages every morning before sunrise? The art of discovery cannot begin until the voices in your head and heart have volume. Last Thursday the attempt was to squeeze blood from a turnip. Through hourly studies the picture became too clear to ignore: Introduce five different "Mindfulness methods of training. But do it in the shortest amount of words." How can you do that? As we age, lost is the impact of your Mother and Father's glare. You know the one I'm talking about! Not a word was shared but you knew the rule just broken was caught on Parental Mental Tape. In this fast paced Social Networking world...I can't be emailing photos of my expressions! And being a Poet my shortened expression leave so many hanging you'd think we were visiting the Spanish Moss covered trees in Charleston, SC. Mindfulness... 1. Cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect other living things. 2. Being aware of how we steal from others. 3. Learning ways to protect the safety, integrity and happiness of you and others. 4. Being aware of the suffering caused by the way we speak while developing better habits of listening. Take a few moments and reflect on the vocal skills of your favorite school teachers. It takes an incredibly special person to patiently wade through near possibility. The pay sucks! Students no longer respect. Support from the principal comes in a bottle called 84% alcohol. Stop! That part of the conversation is gonna piss off a lot of people. Yet I know many, many professional babysitter's willing to up it to 125%. Becoming a Politically Correct Society has weakened the core of stability. A man of God could be sitting right here with me and everything he shares would be sharply questioned. There's so much sugar in our spoken language the physical use of it rots relationships once said to be stronger than teeth. Being up tempo and positive is my weakness, sickness and or failure. People have to be in the mood to digest my presence. Therefore my choice is to stay completely away from coworkers, family and anyone covered with doubt, depression and endless complaints about the Presidential election. The willingness to inspire and influence those that make up your circle no longer carries weight inside a cookie cutting generation set on displaying perfect Political Correctness. Comedians and Rock Stars get away with exposing the true faces of culture. Real people have a commitment to uphold: you butt doesn't look fat and if it did I'd whip out Sir Mix Alot and we'd dance. Mindfulness is accepting awareness and all that it offers after your mind has been reconnected to serious amounts of truthful behaviors. But you can't drop your day and fight about it. Nor can you walk through the chapters of an unwritten book predicting its conclusion. I find myself laughing at the White belts in Martial Arts that are easily convinced that being a Black belt is the Asian Gods answer to being the best of the best. The journey incorporates truthful change. The best teacher never stops being the student. Not a single one of us is the same. Had I known breaking bricks and ego driven sculpted high kicks to the head would shatter the impact of what assumed Martial Arts was... I don't know if there could've or would've been a ten to fifteen year investment. Right smack in the middle of the process an incredibly loud voice shouted, "I've got a much bigger idea. It's going to require you to stop chasing belts... I have teachers for the mind and body but barely a one of you dreamers study the art of the soul..." #4... Being aware of the suffering caused by the way we speak while developing better habits of listening. New Age churches fix broken Christians. Have you ever walked into a Martial Arts school? Stop! That part of the conversation is gonna piss off a lot of people. Yet I know many, many professional babysitter's no longer willing to give 125% because parents want their children to have the belt but give up too easily on accepting the purpose of the journey. I will always believe in you first...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Loomis Fargo Robbery Proves To Be A Great Lesson

This morning while penning thoughts into a daily journal I guaranteed the "Creative" self of a full awareness of the entire cast of Monday many moods and no matter what spin or twist might occur the destination of every conclusion would lean hard on being positive. Not even a half page later the 1920's wooden lap desk designed and built in Britain now used to offer support while writing slipped from my presence spilling fresh wet black ink from a bottle while uncaringly tossing writing instruments of every shape, size and color across the living room floor. Talk about being able to predict the future. How did I know something of tremendous bad energy would soon collect debt? Then again, agreements of openness serve words energy fueling the cause and effect of writing. By mumbling through my fingertips the identification of moods and faces, I was opening the door for multiple visitations. No matter which side of the fence you've chosen to plant green grass, practicing "Mindfulness" enables the inner core of the "Judgment Maker" to think not twice but four times before blurting out accusations. We tend to offer more injury to a day based on simple accidents, misplaced words and emotional out bursts that can normally be healed with just a smile. My choice was to display no reaction. Although I was deeply saddened by the words that wouldn't be written due to the enormous amount of ink pooling on the wood floor. I found solitude in mastering new ways to soak up black ink without leaving large stains I'd have to explain. Let's page back a couple of days... 1. Cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect other living things is step one. 2. Being aware of how we steal from others is step two. Today...without doubt or fear we dive straight into the veins of our third Mindfulness lesson: Cultivating and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals. To preserve not only your happiness but others. Ohhhh I can hear it now, "Wait! Wait! No! No! That's going to require time. My time is more valuable than an ounce of gold." To which I reply, "That's awesome! We've located what you love the most about yourself!" Read the sentence again! Cultivating and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals. To preserve not only your happiness but others. I didn't say make up a bright beautiful road sign that reads: Free Confessions! I'll wipe your slate clean or your money back! Give me a break! If that's your true calling log onto Face Book. Attach Stumble Upon to your Google connection and ride the wild waves of poor poor pitiful me. The reason why 80% of this country walks about in a locked state of depression is because of a seriously out of control addiction to constantly comparing lives then turning it into a race to chase odd ball objects that keep you ahead of the Jones'. Let me paint in an example. Cultivating and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals. To preserve not only your happiness but others. Become aware of how you easily and without guilt cheat the system. It's totally human nature to locate shortcuts. But how do most of us do it? With the aid of innocent bystanders. Warning: Innocent bystanders are usually the people that turn states evidence. They did the crime but will now do lesser time. That was way over the top! But think about it! The 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery where $17.3 million was lifted from where they park the trucks. History documents the Carolina drama as being the second largest heist ever. Yet critics describe the final performance as 100% amateur. Friends with friends who met friends who introduced other friends and wow look at how popular we've now become friends! Of the 24 people arrested how many were innocent bystanders until the scent of green grass grew in places that made living a waste if you didn't take a chance? If you don't know the story...the book Heist will amp you up: Meanwhile, back at home, the bungling continued. The thieves were forced to leave $3.3 million behind because they didn't bring enough 55-gallon storage drums. Two days later, gang member Michele Chambers walked into a bank with a suitcase full of money and asked how much she could deposit without the bank's having to file a report. She deposited $9,500, but a report of suspicious activity was filed anyway. It would take several months for that report to wind its way through the bureaucracy. Back at their mobile home, Michele and her husband, Steve, the mastermind of this strange gang, decided to purchase a $635,000 home less than 30 miles from their current abode. To furnish their new home, the Chamberse's went on a spending spree that included a six-foot-tall wooden Indian, a large oil painting of dogs in military clothes, two bronze statues of nude men, a white porcelain statue of three nude women, a sculpture of a headless man, a ceramic white elephant, gold-framed oil paintings of zebras, naked-women bookends, and a statue of a fat chef. The couple replaced the raw-silk stair runner on the homes impressive staircase with a snappier tiger-skin look. They also bought several large-screen televisions, a $10,000 pool table, a grand piano that no one in the home could play, and several tanning beds. Meanwhile, down in Mexico, David Ghantt was repeatedly calling for more money. He soon learned that Steve Chambers had paid someone to kill him, so the man who actually stole the money spent most of his time alone in his hotel room, eating M&M?s, listening to the Eagles, smoking Marlboro Lights, and reading comic books. When the authorities finally found him, Ghantt gratefully said, "Please tell me you're an FBI agent." Four years after the heist, the FBI had arrested and convicted 24 people and located or accounted for 95 percent of the money, but the folklore surrounding the gang that couldn't steal straight lingers. In this book, Jeff Diamant uses his inside knowledge as lead reporter on the story for the Charlotte Observer to fill in all the hilarious details of a story that has been featured on ABC?s 20/20, America's Most Wanted, Americas Dumbest Criminals, and Discovery Channels ?The Un-perfect Crime? Lesson number three in Mindfulness training: Cultivating and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals. To preserve not only your happiness but others. Basically meaning...if you've got dibs on a great workday escape that finds you at diner reading the newspaper while the rest of the business world is fighting to keep their heads above the world a favor and don't invite a friend. Stop introducing Cotton Candy flavored Vodka to a non-drinker. The inexperienced drinker is usually the one that chooses to drive. I don't care if you have a new credit card with a nifty $1,700's to use... eventually it all has to be paid back and you'll one day hate your friend for helping you spend it. It makes no mention of having to hoist up a fake smile and play the Preacher game. It doesn't demand that a certain number of donation hours be made available to babysit the coworker whose life would make a great Oprah book. No need to rescue 200 cats and a lizard named Barthalamule III. Cultivating and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals. To preserve not only your happiness but others. Plain old fashioned aware of who you invite to the rule breaking celebration. I'll never forget the day I stood witness to a really good friend verbally beating the hell out of his son for getting caught with Pot. In the moments after, the friend and I returned to a party where he slammed back to back Long Island Ice Teas without a pause. It's not the escape that invites the trouble it's how you get away that inspires others to locate their own. I will always believe in you first...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Jesus Was Dressed Like A Homeless Man: He Wanted The World To Call Him Chilly Willie

Hundreds of Carolinian's opened their pockets, sharing tattered and torn dollars and loose pocket change. A million or more watched as he'd walk down the street, across busy intersections and through oversaturated tree covered parking lots. It was too quickly that so many compared their lives to his hourly challenges thanking higher powers for not putting them in the same pair of shoes. He changed the way people think. He influenced you to believe in survival. He built friendships that speak out in music. Of the billions that will or have read his story how many will attend his funeral? Just to say thanks. Thanks for being a friend! Thanks for not being who I assumed! Thanks for being a guide with lessons of life that have taught you to never stop believing. This man served as a symbol to where you could've gone during the worst Recession since the Depression. He was never afraid to set you back up with just a glimpse. One or two words with you and your feet walked in a pair of new shoes. You believed in hope. You stood in grace believing that whatever God controlled your strings you were bathed in a favor. The favor being a blessing that your life hadn't reached the point you assumed was lost and forgotten. If you ever mentioned such words to this man...not another paragraph would've been spoken. He would have had you singing some southern rock song he made up along the way. October 20, 2012... Shot to wake at the arrival of shocking news. Ira on NBC36 reported, "Chilly Willie is gone..." Vividly I still hold the strings that played out the tune he sang out while changing my paths of choice forever. I retreated to the Duncan Donut on Kings Drive/Charlotte, NC to mentally prepare for a two hour lecture based on looking at everyday life then writing poetry about it. While my eyes scraped across hand written notes digitally transformed to the bowels of a Kindle, I grew extremely nervous for I had never exposed my deepest writings to a large group of people. But I was on a mission to listen. To feel thin air escaping the nostrils of passerby's without holding high hopes or a need to be accepted. My goal has always been to inspire just one to write. I studied my awkward word play. It's been accused a billion times of not being perfect. To which I reply, "Why would you mess with my writing accent? Try standing in front of people with these words I write and attempt to deliver them in a level headed easily understood manner." Each page was viewed then whisper talked. The act of saying out loud without gathering attention. On this day I was intertupted, "Hey what are ya doin?" A man, maybe six one, long grayish white beard, buried in a heavy jacket and quite bright with a smile sat two tables from me, "You gotta talk today? Must be important! If it wasn't...the secret would be let out of the bag. They call me Chilly Willie. Man my day has been made. I've got hot coffee." I was more amazed not by the color of his extremely tired well traveled eyes but by the number of patrons that gripped their purses tighter, pulled their children to the side and or came in then immediately left the donut shop. Where they found fear or discomfort is where I located inspiration. I still see his facial expressions dancing through each story for I had never met a man of Homelessness that walked proud. My assumption had been painted over by false beliefs and horrible misunderstandings. It was on that day that Willie influenced me to take words and educate. He was the seed planted in dry dirt with the spiritual strength to push not only his experiences to other corners of the world but over the next several months I would dedicate my life to a Blog called 2012 The Journey Back To America. Within day's I'd meet Scott to whom I quoted a lot but never beyond my day at the Duncan Donut with Willie did I get the opportunity to dig deeper into the richness of character a billion well educated American's dropped off the moment a career was presented. Willie was never fake. Nor did he feel a need to falsify a smile. If Jesus was a man of Homelessness for some odd reason I think his name was Chilly Willie. He spoke directly to me that day, that moment, that chapter which has led to hundreds of pages, songs and videos. Song one: The Survivor... Thru the openness Willie offered I no longer felt a need to turn away. I sat with many who've been challenged by life. The Journey Back to America became the energy inside the writing instrument. Song Two: Rebirth... The impact of creating the video reaches beyond this lifetime. I have so many stories to share. Because I'm often accused of writing too much. Let me share with you the Blogs then we'll call it a day. In the end'll be someone of newness. The first attempt will be to quickly erase but a human heart always speaks what the brain constantly repaints. Amazing things happen when you start to listen... Pedestrian identified as 'Chilly Willy' is killed on East 7th Street By Meghan Cooke Posted: Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 William Major, also known as "Chilly Willy." (Dana Romanoff “Chilly Willy,” a well-known formerly homeless man in Charlotte, was struck by a car and killed Thursday night on East Seventh Street. The much-beloved but troubled 58-year-old, whose real name was William Major, was a fixture for years on Charlotte streets where he panhandled and sang. Police and social workers knew him by name, and his struggles with alcoholism and homelessness were widely known. The fatal collision happened just after 9 p.m. Thursday in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood in front of Jackalope Jack’s, where several other pedestrians have been hit in recent years, including one who died. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Major stepped onto Seventh Street and was struck by a 65-year-old woman driving a Hyundai Sonata. Paramedics rushed Major to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead around 9:30 p.m. Joe Hinson said he was sitting on the patio at Jackalope Jack’s with his back to the road when he heard the crash behind him. When he turned around, he saw Major lying on the ground. Hinson said Major had walked up and down the sidewalk on Seventh Street earlier in the evening. A manager at the bar had told Major to be careful, Hinson said. Police closed a section of the road as they investigated the wreck. The car that struck Major had a dent in the hood, and the passenger side of the windshield was shattered. After hearing that the victim was “Chilly Willy,” several bystanders stopped to ask officers how he was doing. The driver, who stopped at the scene and called 911, is not facing charges, police said late Thursday. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call police at 704-432-2169. The area where Major was killed, near several bars and restaurants, has been the site of other serious crashes involving pedestrians. Last October, Autumn Lynn Soyka, 31, was struck and killed by a drunk driver in front of Jackalope Jack’s. In August 2010, another driver was charged with DWI after hitting and injuring three pedestrians on the same street, also near the bar. Major, easily recognizable by his wild hair, was known as one of the city’s most colorful characters. As news of his death spread Thursday night, people flocked to Twitter and Facebook, writing that they’ll miss Chilly Willy, who many described as the “coolest guy in Charlotte.” Major, who grew up in Charlotte, spent much of his life in trouble with the law, with a criminal record that dated back to the 1970s. Records show he served time in prison for armed robbery and other offenses, including trying to escape from prison. In recent years, Major found himself in jail time and time again, but mostly for nonviolent crimes. His most recent arrest was in August, when he was charged with being intoxicated and disruptive. In 2007 – when a local study identified Major as one of 81 chronic offenders who clogged Mecklenburg County jails – social workers estimated that he had been homeless for about 20 years. In an interview with the Observer that year, Major said he slept behind a liquor store or snuck into the back of cars or a hospital waiting room. When asked why he wouldn’t stop drinking, he said, “I wish I could tell you.” His brother, who occasionally brought him food and money, told the Observer in 2007 that Major began living on the streets when he couldn’t find work after being released from prison. John Major said his brother would walk out of rehab. But local groups that work with the homeless were determined to help Major find a place to live. Five years ago, an administrator for Mecklenburg County Homeless Support Services said Major had a tender side and could be charming and insightful. It wasn’t immediately clear where Major had been staying in recent years. Major often interacted with late-night revelers around uptown, and there are several videos of him on YouTube. In one video posted in 2008 – which had nearly 25,000 views at the time of his death – Major strummed a guitar and then looked at the person holding the camera. “My name is William Larry Major, and they call me Chilly Willy,” he said. “And I’m fixin’ to cut loose on you a song.” Then, in his gravelly voice, he belted out a Charlie Daniels Band tune. “If you don’t like the way I’m livin’, you just leave this long-haired country boy alone,” he sang. Willie's video 2012: The Journey Back To America In 2010 and 2011 I took the mask off breast cancer and shared the story on my Lite 102.9 station blog of Zondra. From the first doctors visit to the surgery to our most recent loss…the blog has been read by people in Singapore, France, Canada, Russia, Germany and beyond. I take our station web page serious…maybe too serious. And then the broadcaster in me is introduced to the next chapter. A new writing project has stepped from the shadows that walk between us. It’s going to require lines to be crossed, daily challenges to appear on opposite sides of the fence at the same time, to disconnect from harmony while helping to share visions where hope used to be a neighbor. Writing is how I breathe… Sharing is air. Your eyes are leaves from a tree. Trees exude oxygen and in return we give back carbon monoxide. When reality isn’t being met by those who want to learn versus the constant push away; it becomes my ambition to socially network the paint I push into the corners so often assumed. I’m going to introduce you to Scott; a well educated extremely successful business man known for his strength to climb un-attempted peaks while scaling numbers that garnered him relationships dreamt of one day greeting. Scott doesn’t have cancer, he became a cancer; homeless by the age of nineteen. History tells not his story because if it had there might be a cure. As a writer, poet with a pen, on-air radio talent that’s discovered more faith in his listeners than research delivered by consultants; in 2012 the Journey Back to America will unveil hell on earth while exposing what you’ve taught yourself not to learn. There’ll be days when your heart can handle the depths introduced and other ticks and tocks on the wall clock that’ll be too heavy to digest because the weight of reality stares at you from beneath the bed, from the closet and below the house in a crawl space never visited. The fat of this nation is Corporate American made and legally it’s fed into the veins of a nation addicted to good times and plenty of booze…everything’s gonna be ok because we’ve learned to make donations. Once described as unstoppable; today The United States of America is third world. 2012 the Journey Back to America will force you to respond, continue to ignore and creatively disguise fears of tomorrow, unwritten, unspoken, unforeseen stories until it gets here. Homelessness is how many paychecks away? What if someone not connected to politics, a church or shelter held the keys to possibility? What if the answer’s been to hell and the guarantee to be set free required a journey to seek the message makers that’ll help invite sunlight to America’s darkest secret. Rather than feed them fish shouldn’t the goal be to teach them how to fish? Every Saturday Angela’s family rushes to a giant church kitchen to skillfully layout a path for the homeless to be properly nourished. I want to know the faces they feed realizing that no addiction can be met unless the identity of the problem becomes truth. I’ll introduce you to a Charter School assistant vowing to neither promise nor guarantee; the better need is to feed the children dropped off at 6:30 AM then expected to learn on an empty stomach. I want you to know Clarence; a chef that’s located a purpose no longer linked to the tallest buildings and most profitable CEO’s in uptown Charlotte but opening walls so tall they naked eye becomes clothed without depending on donations and other hand me outs. More importantly I want your words, wisdom, magic touch and coldest nightmares. My email address is Be open, be honest, be a different name but don’t replace the face that’s become homeless. We’ve ignored it too long. 2012 the Journey Back to America Starts now on November 30, 2011 Songs are shared in ways that never meet up with a true purpose until one day you spin around and realize something you penned out several years ago was meant for now. I’ve joked several times about being an author whose main goal is to write for the future. People laugh…I continue walking forward. Rebirth has a face you won’t forget. To be can’t be until you’ve accepted the art of being while realizing the importance of taking what you’ve become and open a door with it. It’s fully capable of changing paths, dreams and someone else’s life. I’ll never forget the night in 2010 when Rebirth was handed to me through elements writers, poets and musicians can never explain…it just happens. It came to me in chunks, some tiny and others too large to digest. The opening lyrics were heard over and over. I couldn’t break free; it began to affect my dreams. As much as I want to believe the song was written about two best friends ending twenty years of chapters written; life suddenly stood still when Scott introduced me to a lesson he was given called homeless. He has a story. I want to share it. He has a solution with no support. I want to document the journey by utilizing the tools of social media to ignite what three quarters of the world pushes to the side…a moment where homelessness could be prevented. Sounds like a dream, fantasy or tall tale sold at children’s bookstores. Movies come with love themes; why can’t my blog? 2012 The Journey Back to America Rebirth was written by Arroe Collins Originally appearing on the collection of music called 15 Pieces from A Faceless Beast Later rerecorded and remixed for the music project My Blonde Rock n Roll Roots are Beginning to Show Monday, December 05, 2011 2012 The Journey Back To America: Page One Constantly I’m asked why. Why radio? Why paint? Why do you hide behind music? Why so much energy in daily writing? Does there have to be an answer? While accidently knocking over the cherry wood laptop writing desk, dark bluish purple ink wasted no time to dance on the unprepared cool wooden floor. Because you can’t put spilled ink back into its well my imagination instantly began to think of the words that wouldn’t make it to my daily writing. Then it occurred to me that I put too much trust and faith in tomorrow and not enough leadership in the given moment. A trait I blame on radio. Show me an air talent that isn’t planning out a break 20 to 30 minutes or longer in advance and I’ll show you a beginner or someone on the way out. Radio jocks don’t live in the now; everything that transpires requires the same ingredients a book demands: beginning, middle and end. Poets, writers and storytellers don’t cry over spilled ink. We find worry in the act of what could’ve been. When it comes to writing I’m a total sick-o. I preach it like a nicely dressed well determined church going minister on call whose goal tonight is to stand on this rugged sweat stained corner and warn the masses of the second coming. Being a writer and living the path are two different expressions. Knowing the identity of each personality becomes the depth of a page. Although I still hold handwritten scratches dating back to the second grade, I still remember the day a purpose fell from the birds butt above and hit me in the heart. In the way an artist’s painting sits quietly on a living room wall exposing separate stories from different sides of the sofa a journey to live out the tale of a writer had no choice but to begin. Like millions around the world, Julia Cameron helped reopened multiple paths with a language that poked through the darkness school teacher’s so often explain as being too far out there. Mrs. E shouted out in 11th grade Billings Senior High Creative Writing, “Is that the way I showed you how to describe? It was you who elected to take my class and ultimately it’s me who’ll decide if you’re going to pass.” I laughed out loud at the Transiberian Orchestra concert last week when a well respected radio talent peacefully said, “You wander while writing and yet I find myself following.” That said…we now begin. Upon your computerized canvas 2012 The Journey Back To America sits still with a hidden wish to be opened but not lived unless it becomes the case. Then, maybe the only thing owned by many who helped me share this blog can give to you a simple teaching of what schools continue to cover up because homelessness is something they do in a different class, sometimes the basement or near the end of the long hall closest to the door they arrived. I don’t want to be a radio disc jockey sporting a writer’s jacket therefore I’ll rely on the challenger of my daily writing; a character dubbed The Interviewer. He has no face nor voice yet when asking those that volunteered their paths to be studied their words become the pick, the hammer, nails, knives and spoons designed to replant the seeds of something all too many don’t have in making choices on a trail nicknamed Horizon. If you’re frowned upon in the avenues of life to call someone a former Marine; shouldn’t the warriors of the streets be looked upon the same? I won’t call Scott a former homeless man because his journey back to America is vividly painted with lessons that e-books and those still baring hard or soft covers won’t print and in many cases political leaders are tired of hearing about. Backs are turned, subjects are demolished by bigger mass appeal situations and the act of understanding a self taught art of survival is the farthest from their nearest success. The Interviewer plays by one rule to never ask more than five questions during a single meeting. 12/5/2011 Interviewer: The average household in 2011 is two to three paychecks from being homeless...when did you know your path was headed for a collision with the obvious? Scott: When my car broke down after I got it fixed and I didn't have any more money. I had no car at that point so it was quickly coming. Interviewer: Could you have prevented homelessness from happening in your life? Scott: Ya know I at time could not have prevented it. It was out of my control and my mother never got it. Interviewer: Give me three physical signs that showed the changes that lead to Homelessness. Scott: Not exactly sure if there are signs I think people make mistakes not knowing their road is gonna end. I think we live in an illusion that we have more support in our life's then we truly do. I hear people always say they would have the support I didn't. All I did was have a $165 car repair. No drugs no divorce no drama just a car repair. Interviewer: In an age of families melting back together, some apartments featuring two to three different groups at one time. What could you have done with distant relations that may have prevented you from living on the street? Scott: I assume maybe if I cried louder or kept begging I would not have been homeless but when your family says, “Son we are doing very bad ourselves.” At the time the entire country was going through hard times like we are now. Interviewer: Before being homeless when did you feel fear for the first time of it basically being the only way to go? Scott: Honestly the night that the shelter wouldn't take me. The next night was the scariest because the night before I slept out in the cold. With a card board box as my shelter and realizing they only had so many spots and if I didn't get in each night I'd have to spend another night sleeping in direct cold. That still scares me every day. I have never really got comfortable thinking that it can't ever happen again. I see people take relationships every day that they dissolve and people move on. Point is we all seem to think the reality we live in is some kind of fact or controllable. Like everyone would understand and help you. Fact is in this country we seem to only understand people that over come not ones that have to go through what needs to be overcome. Monday, December 12, 2011 2012 The Journey Back To America: Page Two In an age of two clicks and an instant fix we’re finding the shortest distance between two dots isn’t always a straight line. Technology has retrained the human mind to think everything is possible. With such confidence comes a price; professional athletes and coaches caught up in scandals, who knew what a ponzi scam was until Bernie Madoff made off with billions? For the first time in history not one or two but four generations from Boomer’s to Gen Xer’s, Y’s and all other’s born after 1992 sit in economic timeout. Not just in the United States but around the world. While the price of gold, copper and other precious metals soar, the onetime best investments of housing, banking, retail and The Stock Market continue to shake worse than the most famous fault lines on the California coast. No single person or group holds the solution, not even a vision that’ll separate the rugged sea for the masses to walk between. The backlash of getting what you want when you want it has unleashed a scene only Hollywood was capable of making. Rent and mortgage defaults blanket the current conditions forcing families to live with relatives and friends or if you’re lucky pack up the car and live alongside a barely traveled street or behind buildings. In our first blog I introduced you to Scott who found his way out. How? We have 52 weeks to share that cure. For now I need to dig deeper; to locate the modern face of those racing to survive. To reach toward the calm palm of the grey bearded wanderer that doesn’t want to come back to America while introducing you to the silent warriors chosen to help re-invite. When it comes to extending unconditional love Pastor Flo from Segal Avenue Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina stands on no line. What is good for one is good for all. Therefore no day passes that the doors leading to her sanctuary aren’t open to someone lost, cold and without answers to such brutal challenges. While delivering the second of three parts of a series based on locating your personal Star of Bethlehem, Pastor Flo called me out; while with the congregation she spoke directly to me about homelessness, recognizing it as a very powerful issue. My questions challenged her so she challenged me back with a quote that changed the entire path, “When you say someone is homeless, are they houseless or without connection? Because at Segal Avenue you’ll always have a home and I will do everything within my power to give you a connection to lessons that will strengthen you.” I am the Interviewer and each person met on this year long quest will only be asked five questions. Interviewer: What do people fear most during a time when everything around them seems lost forever? Pastor Flo: Fear of the unknown is definitely our biggest fear. If you don’t have a clue as to where your next meal will come from or where you will lie down for the evening, that’s a huge sense of hopelessness. The despair that accompanies loss is vicious. It gnaws away at the fiber of one’s being. If a man or woman has no existential reality about themselves, the fear is that their existence doesn’t matter at all. If they have no existence, or sense of contribution, as in even being alive matters, then that person has no reason for anything. The purpose of a relationship with God is to instill a sense of being. Therefore the church as an extension of the relationship creates opportunities for people to grow in the reality of being created for a purpose. Interviewer: With as passionate as you are about the community what becomes the focus on the path to reach out farther than most to help the hungry and homeless? Pastor Flo: For a long time we have provided a place to sleep (once a week) or food for those who are hungry (twice a month) and weekly we feed children who sometimes wouldn’t eat if the church didn’t provide food. Now the larger questions are having to be addressed such as what is keeping people hungry and homeless? Interviewer: Can homelessness be conquered? Pastor Flo: That could be viewed as a trick question. Jesus said the poor will always be among us, however he didn’t say that the homeless would always be among us. We customarily define people who do not have shelter as homeless, however some would say that they are “houseless”. Homelessness could be defined as 'An inadequate experience of connectedness with family and or community,' (Dominic Mapstone). This fact is now recognized by Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Program. If the problem was a lack of shelters (then the answer is easy) but more shelters won't solve the problem. Homelessness is about a lack of connectedness. Belonging somewhere is about belonging with other people. Like belonging to a family, a Church, Synagogue or Mosque or local community. We’ve got work to do. The largest social demographic in first world countries that experiences homelessness are actually elderly people who have shelter, but not a home. Quite often their spouse has died and their children live at a distance. They feel the same loneliness and abandonment as the person living on the street. Interviewer: Because of his travels wasn’t Jesus homeless? Pastor Flo: Absolutely not. Jesus was surrounded by community and people he could interact with. Folks he could teach help and empower. He didn’t own a house (to our knowledge) but he was connected. Interviewer: A homeless child sits in front of you scared of the future, Christmas to them is a box of hand me downs and almost new toys from the Salvation Army…how do you teach faith in a politically correct world? Pastor Flo: We need a new paradigm. Unless and until “faith communities”, the public (political) arena, and the private sector come together, there will be no future. Yes time and matter will continue to be, but there will be no understanding of reality that resides in hope for a better tomorrow. Public policies are contradicting what’s needed to instill hope. In like manner religious paradigms must be reshaped to meet the new demands and front new needs. The private sector listens to the “profit” more than the “prophet”. None of them alone can reshape our future. It is not until we all come together that we can change the world. So my first response to the child is I’m so sorry that life hasn’t served you as best as it is capable of serving you. My next steps would be to seek ask and raise the questions and seek to adjust our compasses to reflect True North. Interviewer: John F Kennedy said it best, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” Monday, December 19, 2011 2012 The Journey Back To America: Page Three To refocus indicates a change of energy. Through education one might be made aware of but in the end to refocus becomes a ticket or a fist full of hope that’s easily burned by chance nestling opportunity. Only a couple of times have I heard a company general manager say, “Because of economic conditions we’ve decided to make the New Year a learning place. We’re refocusing on several possibilities and in doing so we believe the end result will be a future that includes every player with us today.” Being on this side of the white picket fence fear becomes the decision maker. You’ve been warned. There’s nothing you can do to prevent change except to prepare for it. During the bitterly cold whispers of wind that capsized the month of January 2010 my soul was forced to refocus; a single woman, maybe 26 or less sat on the concrete block that keeps cars from jumping a storefront sidewalk. She didn’t beg nor borrow from passerbies. Although she sat not stood on the frost covered block nobody approached her to ask, “Are you ok?” Being only six feet from the steam that rhythmically flowed through her dirt covered nose, I kept wondering making sure I didn’t poison it with assumption. I had been there before; Melrose in Los Angeles. Each who walk beside, within and nearby carry several scents of life and style and my decision was to quickly compare without being aware. In doing so…I felt tremendous guilt. And there I was again except this time through education and being fully aware of the shortest distance between two dots not being the best path, I chose to step away from the car and offer something as small as, “Are you lost?” “No…” she embarrassingly replied pulling her face from the conversation as if to locate something more engaging on the fast paced street in front of us. “Did your car break down?” “No…” the short answer was released with no reason for me to believe she was in danger. “Can I help you?’ “I wish somebody would’ve said that when the bank I used to work for decided to rip my department a part. I just wanna live again.” At that moment I realized how close we all are to being homeless. She was warm compared to how frozen I instantly became while attempting to push away corporate reality. As if to be a morning dove and I a child chasing the sky for feathers, she stood then flew away. Walking back to my car I knew had to write. I had been given something beyond my control and in receiving it the energy to refocus became my guide. The exact words scribbled on the back of a monthly statement from Verizon Wireless to which I’ve never thrown away: You sit in silence and solitude, not wanting to be found. Your face is muddied by not your hand. Gone tonight is the life you once had. Palms closed so tight my friend. Open up and let someone in. Lost and alone on a darkened night. She feels with her memories to give her sight. She’s cold, emotion sold. And then she says, “I wanna live again.” You sit inside your lonely thoughts holding pictures of forget-me-nots. Your shelter is shattered by not the shell. In your hand you hold your fathers pride. The times have changed, a new generation. Open up and let someone in. Lost and alone on a darkened night. She feels with her memories to give her sight. She’s cold, emotion sold. And then she says, “I wanna live again.” During the arrival of a new Christmas, Pastor Flo reached toward a deeper explanation of the meaning of Mary being a virgin giving birth to a child. Whether you believe or choose to walk away. Her landscape of thought gave reason to refocus on what the symbol of a virgin is; that of new, a challenge, a journey or vision quest that overpowers the present only to find that what’s been shared with you might not be for you but rather everybody you meet along the way. Ultimately it’s your choice to accept your true north or sit and sag in the middle wondering why the depth of every page is easily scratched away. There’s no religion in that. It’s a walk and what you take in or take away makes or breaks the start of every new day. Stop searching and start realizing it’s already there. To refocus indicates a change of energy. While visiting a library I’d spend more time holding chapters in a book that featured bent tips of a single page. Forgetting the story I elected to learn more about why someone before me chose that moment to seal off their reasons from moving forward with the book. Were they tired? Could the car ride have come to a conclusion or the doctor’s office waiting room been not so busy which allowed them to step inside another reason for being? Might they have been homeless and within the next steps of an environment shut off from reality there was no way the bleeding mind of a poet could inspire them to keep moving forward. Did my friend Scott win the war against homelessness or was he given a virgin gift that forced him to refocus. His message is powerful but how many along the way stepped from the comforts of life without judgment? It’s not natural to assume someone is homeless. It’s a lack of focus that drives your heart into believing your life is better. What if you took the time to refocus? Upon your return who in your current circle would you terminate or is the truth of understanding on the streets we beat to death daily with cars that take us away from the places we truly need to be? What happens if the car stalls? Thursday, December 22, 2011 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Four Standing with my hands open in a Sunday morning soup line doesn’t guarantee a reason for being. Nor do the chapters written open in the way Moses parted the sea. Then again my upbringing had nothing to do with connecting a performance to a payoff. You do what you do not because you want others to do the same for you but you do what you do because that’s you. I study. I wishfully think there’s something we can do. I study even harder. While the winds of the north prepare to blow what little is left on the winter prepared trees; each limb tends to scrape from the sky what little is left for the trunk to carry. The ground is frozen so no water is getting in. The air seems tight so there’ll be no rain tonight. Like a homeless man the tree bends with whatever wave is sent; to make it through the storm seems endless, meaningless and almost next to never a game of let’s pretend. I study. I carefully listen to the tales connected. I study even harder. The closer I get so shall the scent; that of wonder salted with what must it be like? Willie is too free while Scott couldn’t escape fast enough. Does the Stock Market guarantee no room at the Rescue or does being people of homelessness come with a modern society? A set of war torn eyes belonging to Clarence the Chef swell while gently explaining his most recent visit inside the outside; to meet, greet and hold the hands of mother’s wanting nothing more than to find a blanket to cover their child not collect the almighty dollar so many city folk tie to their lost identity. I study. I patiently wait for the painted face to appear before my writing hand. To share by way of being there. To open is to teach. I haven’t a clue as to how one might be able to heal so rather than steal I hand the writing instrument over to the voices that live beside the darkness waiting for the walkers to suddenly appear. Jennifer Clark is the Business Manager of the Family Care Center of Catawba Valley, Inc. Family Care Center is a nonprofit agency that provides emergency and transitional housing for homeless families with dependent children. The program offers a comfortable and secure apartment for each guest. It also provides physical, emotional, social and educational services. The Goal at Family Care Center is to transition every family into permanent housing through a savings program, in lieu of rent, the guest are required to pay a savings into their office that goes into an account for them. According to Jennifer, “Basically, they’re paying rent to themselves.” The key is to have a job and in this area that may sometimes be a challenge. Family Care Center uses valuable resources to help those struggling in their job search. It’s a “helping hand – a hand up” not a hand out. The guests are required to do their part to make their time in this program a success. But together, with the help of the community, local businesses and Churches, we can make a better tomorrow one family at a time. I am the Interviewer. Jennifer was asked five questions: Interviewer: Why is it so difficult for the homeless to convince themselves that you can help? Jennifer: The Family Care Center is designed for families with dependent children who for whatever reason – laid-off, overcrowded situation, fire, domestic violence, etc. – have found themselves in a state of homelessness. They were once self-sufficient and independent and now find themselves in a scary and unfamiliar place in their lives. Once we reassure them that they are not alone and together we can get them back on their feet and restore their self-confidence and pride once again, we can begin the recovery process. Interviewer: How difficult is it when job applications require an address the homeless don’t have one? Jennifer: Fortunately, most applications can be applied for online and responses can be sent via email. The families in our program are given an apartment and a mailbox, so that eliminates this problem. However, we have also found that many of the families applying for our program cannot get food stamps without a permanent residence, so many of the families that come into our program have to wait until they have a permanent address before receiving food assistance. This is a problem for families that are living in their vehicles, streets, or tents. Interviewer: Being face to face with departure with no reason to believe in the horizon what one message have you shared that invites hope? Jennifer: Jesus cares and so do we! You are not alone. Time after time, families come in desolate, disheartened, and depressed – for just reason. Many of these people have no one to turn to; they see the faces of their children looking at them for reassurance and they have nothing to offer. We through the support of the community can restore some normalcy to what otherwise is a hopeless situation. We offer an opportunity for a second chance at a better life. Interviewer: Can new beginnings keep someone from returning to homelessness? Jennifer: With proper training and education, the homeless can become self-sufficient and independent once again. Budgeting is a big part of the long term recovery picture. These families need to be taught how to manage money and what is considered necessities and what can they do without (ie: cigarettes, cell phones, cable t.v., internet, etc.) They need to learn to live within their means, as do we all. Interviewer: If a homeless family isn’t with you, who are they with? Some of these people are forced to stay in unsafe and unsanitary places or extremely overcrowded conditions. There is a shelter in this area that gives homeless families and individuals a place to sleep and a warm meal. The doors are not opened until around 3 p.m. and they are required to be out around 9 a.m. therefore for most they have nowhere to go during the day. Our program however does come with several rules and requirements, first they must be working or diligently searching for employment, in order to get out of the homeless situation they are currently in, they must be willing to work hard to find and maintain employment while in our program. They are required to put money into a savings that goes through our office so that we know they are actually saving. This money is used at the end of their stay to get them into permanent housing, hopefully through an income based housing program. This type program can assure that the families will be able to maintain at the minimum status quo and hopefully in time continue to better themselves and their families’ situation. Tuesday, January 03, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Five Visually, scanning the jagged edges of homelessness seems approachable, without hard to digest challenges, some might even call it a vision quest to connect with a higher understanding of where this generation might be drifting. Now that the writer whose footprints have been muddied by thirty two years of radio broadcast has stepped into the mysterious dark hole; the faces of assumption line the unmarked nights as to who is and isn’t homeless versus which family, friend or coworker will charter a headless dream giving permission to hope, faith and ambition to seize it’s desire to receive air? Homelessness is more visual than you see. It’s disguised to look like other methods of acceptance such as multiple families living under one roof, the same quarter acre of land featuring small one to two bedroom no bigger than a shack landmarks that resemble housing, bankruptcy terminates mortgages but in some cases you have until a year to physically leave the setting or if you spend ten minutes driving in any direction on a freeway you’ll bump into the modern gypsy; American’s that have walked away from neighborhoods and city streets, country cabins and lakeside waves to accept constant moving by way of RVing. Homelessness isn’t just the bum snuggled up in a blanket at a bus stop begging for a buck or scratching his or her fingers across five strings of a heavily weathered guitar chanting songs written along the way. Pastor Flo was extremely clear when explaining, “Are they houseless or homeless? Do they suffer from disconnection?” Standing outside Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, NC on New Year’s Eve, my conversation with a short dirty bearded man with crusted fingertips and stained tips smoking the last 1/8th of an inch off his only smokes began with, “Are you without a home tonight?” “I have a home!” His well focused reply instantly bounced off me. “If they let me back into this place I know exactly where I’m gonna be tonight.” Pulling from his jacket was a nicely folded sheet of paper that categorically in a lawyers way explained that because he chose to smoke that he wouldn’t be allowed in. Sucking in a lung full of what used to be he found no reason to believe that he fit the category I had suggested, therefore every question I very politely shared was blocked by what Scott a former street warrior called my misunderstanding. It was I who was uneducated. Scott explains, “If you’re watching TV and a man walks into your house without knocking, you’d feel invaded. Walking up to the assumed homeless man put his defenses up just like yours.” I would never walk up to someone in an RV and start things out with, “How long you been without a roof?” If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck…in the world of homelessness that doesn’t mean you’re standing next to something that’s going to quack. This week The Interviewer took not five but one question to the web with shielded five different answers: How should I approach the homeless? Reply number one: Homeless people aren't all necessarily the cliche "hobos" the media displays for us to see. I've talked to many, and they're all normal people. All the homeless people I've met so far have spoken perfect English. You have to remember that most of these homeless people were once average people although some others may have been born homeless which is a rare case. Talk to them like normal people, really! In your world, there are fat, pretty, ugly, skinny, mean, nice, tall, and short people. -Well, it's basically the same in the homeless world. Offer them a meal with a drink, sit down beside them and ask a simple question "Hi, my name is ________. Do you care for a meal? I've been walking around this whole day, the weather is really nice. How are you today, sir/ma'am?" If they nod or reply yes, hand them their meal politely. Don't start to personally, and don't ask for their name too early, instead ask them as you leave "It was wonderful meeting you. I'll come again next weekend if you don't mind. Oh, and what is your name?" Replay number two: I did a project on people and their different life styles and one day while I was going to grab some lunch to go…this guy who, when he talked sounded like anyone else not like "change change, can I have a dollar, do you have any money to spare?" He was really polite. I asked if he had plans for the rest of the day. He said, “No…” like expected. I asked him if he would like to join me for lunch. I found out how he became homeless and the inside "scoop" on the homeless journey to survive and make it to the next day. Reply number three: I usually just smile and say, “Hi!” I've seen people engaged in conversation with homeless people and I think as long as you're friendly and treat them respectfully, you can begin a conversation too. If you're doing this for a project, it would only be right to give them a few dollars or buy them a meal while you're talking, because their time is valuable too. Ok stop right there. This brings me to a conversation with Scott whose personal vow is to take $300 from his entrepreneurial pocket and hand out the money $50 at a time. Instantly I gulped! $50 is a ton of cash to give to a person you don’t know especially since society has taught us that nearly every cent of it will be spent on drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. “At least I know they’ll be warm tonight,” was Scott’s reply. “Warm with hope. The first thing you lose out on the street is hope. A man walks up and gives you fifty bucks and for the first time in weeks your heart feels something incredibly special.” Interviewer: How should I approach the homeless? Reply number four: I once stayed in a homeless shelter in Denver for a while. Went into a stupid "Work Oriented" rehab program there. Did it instead of going to jail for four months. Worked 13 hours a day cleaning up human waste and puke, being eaten up by bedbugs, cooking dinner and washing dishes for our "guests" and putting up with all manner of verbal and physical abuse from them. A few, really just a few, were friendly and appreciative. The rest were just ornery, dangerous, ugly, shiftless, disgusting human junk. I got in a lot of fights. More than I did in jail. If they can get away with it, most will kill you and strip you in ten minutes flat. Kill you for ten bucks. If I had it to do over I'd just go back to jail. Reply number five: I encounter homeless people five days out of the week. A few months back, I had a good discussion with a friend about homeless people. He was passionate in a practical way. He had experience. His advice was simple - just talk to them. They're human too. That's scary. They're not like me. They may smell. I'm in a hurry. Talk to them about what? What if they ask for money? He proceeded to tell me that homeless people just want you to talk to them. They don't want to be a project. My friend mentioned the idea of keeping a few cans of chili in the back of my car just for a homeless occasion. I didn't have to store those cans for long. Anthony was his name. I met him at a Shell just down the street from school. He asked me for money. I asked him if he was hungry. And out came the chili. We sat on the sidewalk with our chili and talked, like new friends. He is 28 years old and was jumped in the park the night before. He told me of his family and how long he had been homeless (10 years). His dad finds him from time to time and gives him money. He has a driver's license, but only for identification. He showed me where he slept the night before. All the while I was holding back tears. Monday, January 09, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Six I’m often accused of fake laughing. Releasing what comes across as an assumed smile but once the wizard’s invitation includes a backstage pass he calmly explains, “All that you come to witness within the chapters of Oz isn’t meant for reality but instead a reason to thrust a shovel into the crusted soils of what life calls fantasy.” Not all radio disc jockeys tune into the same delivery system; focusing more on what’s being read and not how it’s being said. Rather than stain the fingers running the colorfully lit control boards leading to your ears, relied upon are the visions, words, unguided thoughts and heavily guarded corporate departments whose images mean more than physically making a difference in the disappearance of a onetime strong working body. It’s not difficult to count the number of businesses that brag of being community involved versus those who’ve elected to hit the trenches. All too often companies exercise a term created in the late 80’s early 90’s: Cut and Paste. Why participate when being connected looks better when using someone else’s interpretation? Homelessness is a subject very few leaders want to talk about unless it benefits the all around image of who, what and why you are and how it’s important that clients realize the depths of your presence in the community. Built on a foundation of sand is a fake storefront convincing wanderers to purchase the product assumed real…when in fact the distance of your decision to cut and paste is fraud. I’m often accused of fake laughing. Is the Mona Lisa smiling or is she thinking about how being real changes people’s lives? I might a well scream, “Squirrel!” Our attention span is about as long as a Twitter Tweet. Between 2007-2012 downsizing has evolved into Occupying. A word game; a pointing of fingers, neither of which have served any purpose other than to latch onto another thirty seconds of paparazzi style hype on local and national news channels. I want to write: Unknowingly the journey continues. But we know Homelessness has a new face and this week you’re too numb or the online banking account claims there’s just enough in the account to keep you from being one of them. The identity theft in this great nation isn’t just the innocent person whose Social Security number was stolen but the loyally dedicated American that watched their savings instantly disappear by an economy that continues to strategically raise prices then pointing the finger at supply and demand. I received twenty two different credit card applications in the mail last week from well known local and out of state banks to corporate mall stores and hardware outlets. To help identify the creators of this new face of Homelessness I called their nifty cool toll free number to ask, “What is your policy when the company I work for pulls off another RIF? (Reduction in force) While only a few offered a three month break, I was also introduced to an insurance policy that pay the bills if unemployed while hearing those golden words, “You are responsible to make all payments on time or there will be a charge added to the amount of monies owed.” It’s kind of like writing a bad check; by the time you get your name cleaned up and dried out you’ve forked out enough fines to finance the CEO’s next trip to Vegas. I am the Interview. Five questions; the name and identity shall remain unapproachable. This is just one of the new faces of potential homelessness. Interviewer: You have to rebuild your foundation. Are bankers, creditors and others involved with taking money showing any concern of the possibilities that if they don’t work with could be homeless? Reply number one: No! No one wants to help. I have spoken to the mortgage company and they keep passing me to someone else. Nobody is willing to help or do anything but wait believing that I’m going to turn things around before they decide to take the next step. I feel helpless! It kills your soul. You begin to no longer care about anything. You want to disappear. Hope is the first thing to go. Interviewer: You aren't homeless now but having two heads of the household not meeting financial demands...does it scare you knowing your future is in question? Reply number two: Yes! It terrifies me! I cannot sleep at night because I worry about it. I’m afraid! The banks make you feel like someone is lurking outside your window day and night taking pictures. It makes you feel like you’re surrounded by a bunch of sharks. They’re waiting to see if I’m going to pick up and leave. I’ve seen the yards full of toys. I’ve seen the houses abandoned. It makes you sick to your stomach to think you could be the next one to do it. Interviewer: How does a normal society start reacting to your reasons for no longer being able to keep up with the Jones? Reply number three: I’ve never been one to keep up and have always tried to take advantage of coupons and discount prices. I’m being forced to reassess the importance of wants versus need. Right now my utilities are more important than purchasing food. Scaling back means making a connection with restaurants offering All You Can Eat or $3.99 specials because it’s cheaper to eat there then putting food in the refrigerator. Eating there makes you feel like you’re part of society. You feel like you’re still human. You feel normal. Being at home eating soup is depressing. It’s as if you’ve been isolated and ostracized. I locate hope when eating at these cheap restaurants because you’re with others like you, it’s a common ground. Interviewer: Can you survive if your house is taken away? What methods will you use to keep from being lost? Reply number four: I have some money in savings. Without it the situation would be do or die. My background is made up of people that work hard. Companies don’t see me as who I am. I have created and sold jewelry. I’ve worked hard selling whatever it takes to bridge the gap. I’m willing to babysit for third shifters. It’s not that I don’t want to work. I swear it’s because I’m an older female that business owners look the other way. They don’t see how I’m available to them 24/7. I’m not going to get pregnant. I won’t be leaving from work to take care of my sick children. The only thing I lack is the continued education in a computer world that’s constantly changing but that’s something that can be easily learned. Interviewer: Mentally the thought of homelessness forces misunderstood rage to this level of stable is the stage? Reply number five: Not stable at all. I’m aggravated. It’s like walking in quicksand. Every time you get your hopes up something new hits you. It’s a constant to experience days where the slightest thing sets off the rage. I want to run away! I don’t want to deal with it. I want to disconnect. I don’t want to react with other people or have a relationship with friends. There’s not a dark enough place anywhere to hide. This is sad! They keep building new homes and I know banks will drive more people into where I am. I’ve stopped asking about things and just walk through the day. It sickens me to think of the numbers of soon to be homeless. Tuesday, January 17, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Seven Over the weekend a Presidential hopeful was stridently grilled of his assessment to publicly debate that our current place in history is captained by a Food Stamp President. Immediately he was labeled a racist. Calmly, the former Speaker of the House explained how research has put a face on the number of American’s currently receiving monthly government help. At no other time has there been such a demand. Is it wrong to say there aren’t enough fingers and toes on my body to count the number of hungry families I know? Should I be embarrassed by the height of the mountains keeping school children unfocused in class because they’re not getting proper nourishment? As a child I never knew why I wore the ugliest shoes. I couldn’t figure out the reasons why other’s would point then laugh at the jacket barely covering my shivering skin. I didn’t eat lunch at school because I was embarrassed to let co-students see me drink powdered milk, eggs and anything extremely cheap. By junior high the system had changed and we were allowed to keep a card the lunch lady would punch but mine was always a different color than the others. But this isn’t about me… And I refuse to make this writing endeavor a political statement. Nobody wants to talk about homelessness not even those living on the street. I can’t hide the numbers that are invisibly growing. Therefore the journey has become a walk through a manmade forest. Why should this collection of eroded gullies and ancient canyons be any different? Shocking isn’t the new face of homelessness but the silence so many hold in what they brag as being an open door or warm heart and palm. So this week I traveled outside the trees, to a different ridge. To the assumed grand beauty of a section of the nation so proud and even here the soil is poisoned. Because Native American’s don’t believe in fate; I find no reason to locate a purpose as to why the footsteps of my path have led me to a trail baring the name of Jerry West. A quick glance at his bio and even my mother would question the decision to enter the sacred circle holding the often ignored questions. His Florida ministry is based on identifying demons. He travels the country dressed in heavy makeup and large metal like shielded costumes that a younger generation finds Super-Hero-like only to learn there’s a much deeper message. Trusting gut instinct and the knowledge of knowing how showmanship can be an extremely powerful tool, I tightly held the glossy promotional photo of Jerry laced up and ready for war and hardly took the split in a fast paced second to decide, “This guy has story which will help build bridges over valley floors on this journey back to America.” I am the interviewer. Every week for fifty two total I’ll ask only five questions. Interviewer: No matter where you travel you can’t hide the differences that separate the rich, middle class and poor. But if you stop long enough a fourth class is beginning to appear closer in rearview mirrors. Do you see this as the start of a third world? Reply number one: I’m not an optimist or a pessimist but a realist. I see things the way they are. The south has always been known as a different group of people. But that’s what makes this country great. We have the south, northeast, southwest and the Pacific northwest. But for some reason conditions in the south have always been different which can be traced all the way back to the civil war…the south has never lost a painful stigma of being like a third world country of helplessness and homelessness. Personally I believe if enough of us ban together to do something about our current conditions without relying on the aid of the government then the south won’t return to the way it was. If each person would agree that enough is enough and do one thing to change the face of today an entire nation will change. We have the power to affect everybody. Interviewer: Can churches and rescue missions afford to keep helping people? Reply number two: We’re in a position to always provide help. I’m not talking about a particular denomination but every denomination. Forget what the marquee says outside on the wall and realize that the word “church” is a single body that never stops reaching into lives requiring help. Interviewer: What’s more important dropping a couple of bucks in the plate on Sunday morning or offering your time at a soup kitchen? Reply number three: When you share five or five hundred dollars know the majority of the churches in America will be helping the homeless. Whether it’s for food, clothing, temporary shelter or a chance to grasp hope again…by providing a couple of extra bucks someone’s life will change for the good because they believed in themselves enough let a church or rescue open the door for them to locate a new job. Interviewer: Are the new faces of homeless the birth place of new missionaries and teachers? Basically meaning, could these experiences be an extremely valuable education for future Americans? Reply number four: Anybody can teach. You don’t have to be homeless. Any experience is a life experience. You can spend thousands of dollars on the best education and walk out a dummy. I’m not against education because I believe we need to educate ourselves. A life experience is the best way to communicate a more peaceful tomorrow. Use the experience to teach other’s how to survive when things look bad. Don’t be shy with your experiences…what you went through can change another life so they don’t endure the same experience. These are the mistakes I made…let me help you make the right choice. Interviewer: In the past five years a lot of jobs and lives have been destroyed because of corporate cutbacks that tend to finance the pockets of CEO's and Stockmarket Share Holders rather than the hardworking do you react to the Presidential hopeful that believes Corporate America is not a corporation but rather a person? If it truly is a person then what laws should be enforced to help correct conditions at work? Reply number five: People are people. The Government is for the people by the people. A statesman speaks on behalf of the people while a politician speaks on behalf of the person giving them a vote. We the people of the United States need to hold those controlling our tax dollars accountable. If you want to look at it from a Corporate American standpoint then someone needs to remind them that they work for us. Monday, January 23, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Eight Impatiently pacing from side to side while rubbing each tired finger through every strand of uncombed hair, it’s becoming more difficult not to get caught up in what I’ve dubbed a homeless commotion of emotion. Why as the most productive nation on the planet haven’t we traveled beyond the indifferences that influence an individual or family to pack up and become homeless? I grasp the required levels of financial success but fail to see why so many can’t see…someone living on the street. What is it about the human psyche that blocks out the far better choice to reach out and into the misunderstood appeal of having nothing? A weathered man with tightly laced worn out shoes struggles to keep his walk upright while making his way down a line of warm cars on a crowded morning street. Nobody bothers to roll down their frosted driver’s side window to bid him a great day or offer the loose change that’s fallen to the floor. Not even the most watched show on television can shield itself from the growing shades and shapes of homelessness. And nowhere during the show did the host or producer of American Idol elect to select a reason to educate a viewing audience of millions. Instead Amy Brumfield’s life was glorified. The portrait painted was that of a man and woman finding peace in the core of a forest of trees. Was I the only one that took note of there being no blankets on the mattress sitting on top of dirt? The roof was made of blue plastic tarps tied to limbs with the trunk serving as a great backdrop to hang what looked like three cupboards tossed out at a nearby hardware box store. Amy clearly explained how having no employment served as an invitation to this special place but unlike Robin Hood these trees weren’t 16th century but new millennium where every slice of land by now has to belong to someone so why weren’t we introduced to the fears of being a trespasser? No the writers, directors and producers of American Idol chose instead to swipe the green from the scene and turn homelessness into a luxury. Later in the week at the Pittsburgh tryouts another contestant tearfully explained how his Mother’s unexpected departure tortured his father. So much so it infected his workplace performance leading to being let go. Paying bills was nonexistent which served as a golden ticket to a homeless shelter. The weekly talent search has favorably raised millions of dollars for Africa and Haiti. Why isn’t a single mother or father with three barely fed children recognized as a crisis? How about a Reality Television show that follows the true to life reality of having nothing to owning four different companies? This takes us back to Scott; the inspiration behind this yearlong expedition into the shadows of bad fate and invisible luck. Don’t even think about repainting the depths of his experiences through frigid fronts and passing storms. Making it back to America didn’t arrive at the front door of his homelessness. The exuberant amount of faith, sweat and failure was challenged by single strands of hope that most lose in the first couple of weeks. His modern steps in business success aren’t avenues of bragging choosing instead to be loud, proud and ready to bring war and peace to the homeless shores. More on his vision later; his story has to be heard first. I am the interviewer: The American cowboy rode the open plains, he was homeless yet glorified; shouldn’t the modern wanderers? Reply number one: Cowboys? The concept of both are completely different. Cowboy’s never had electricity which means he was never spoiled. Modern day society has made life extremely different enforcing us to believe we have to have certain things. One thing about going through homelessness is you learn to accept life as it comes. So in that sense they are same!! The Interviewer: I met Willie one day at Duncan Donuts…normal to him is being on the street. He vowed to never come off. In your quest to help end homelessness what does someone like Willie do for your plans? Reply number two: I think that's a crock that Willie doesn't want to come off the street. When he gets word that's there's a safe place to go and sleep in a bed for $7.00 a night and I promise you he’ll change his tune. I’ve never met anyone given the opportunity that didn't want to come out of cold. It's mighty lonely in the cold. The Interviewer: I’ve heard people of homelessness are territorial…was it easier to try and locate peace or stand your ground? Reply number three: When I 1st became homeless everyone thought I was a cop. I was too clean without stinky clothes. My face might have been dirty but I wore $100 shirts and pants. So I got beat up almost weekly. I still remember the night when three men came out of nowhere and stopped a couple guys from pushing me around. They told them to leave the white kid alone he's just like us. And he's ok. I thought I was gonna die that night; they pushed me so hard that I fell down and hit a big rock and was bleeding badly. I kept thinking that I wasn’t gonna make it through this beating. Then all of sudden the three men showed up and from that day I was never touched ever again. I promised myself that night that if I ever got off street I was never going to forget my experiences. I guess that's why I am so passionate about this. We have to make a change! This has to happen! Those men saved my life. The Interviewer: When personal hygiene isn’t an option what is the new clean? Reply number four: Hygiene…what a reality that is! I still have to remind myself to take a shower every day and brush my teeth. When you’re homeless you don't have the facility to take a shower or brush your teeth it becomes something that’s no longer held up as important because you’re in a constant state of anxiety. Hygiene becomes low priority. Depression sets in and it becomes even a lower priority. The Interviewer: Food seems to be an American luxury…how did you convince yourself that some or none would have to suffice? Reply number five: When you end up homeless you work to eat. It's about the only thing that you can do. I would give plasma and then go out and try and find work for the day. Any labor would normally suffice but you buy the 25 cent crackers and sun drop was 69 cents. On a good day you’d spend $2.50 on a couple cheese burgers or find someone that’s selling them for 59 cents. That became my normal diet. I’ll forever respect Showmars for their $7.00 menu. It became my place to help relocate hope. When you are homeless you’re very much aware of how much you have in your pocket. Monday, January 30, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Nine To properly “people watch” the observation must include truth. But from where does truth arrive? To say the sky is blue toils with the soils surrounding opinion. My father judged the impatience of Mother Nature calling her paths of many truthful gray with shades of ocean waves. John 16:13 When he the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own, he will speak only what he hears and he will tell you what is yet to come. Leo Tolstoy writes, “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Finding my favorite place to people watch at the areas upper class mall, islands appear on the fast approaching horizon; those who are truthful of themselves versus the faithful. In her book Prosperous Heart author Julia Cameron believes that we walk through walls and mountainsides imagining life would be easier to hold if what we held was faith…the faith of having more money. Money… Can you physically remember the last time such conversation wasn’t part of your daily observation? Even the rich worry about having no money. More so then the middleclass and poor because the idea of loosened screws on a current platform generates a fear of having to be looked upon or judged not as being blue but rather truthful gray with shades of ocean waves. Cameron questions, “Have we ever been left high and dry? From out of nowhere family, friends, churches and rescues reach beyond judgment. Genuine generosity stuns the flow of blood keeping your heart alive. Prosperity becomes the tour guide. Two years ago thousands of wealthy American’s lost their fortune to Ponzi schemes run by nefarious fanciers. While the criminals were swiftly led away in handcuffs those affected were left depressed, lonely and afraid of what they were stuck carrying; the burden of having to start over with nothing. From truth…faith was tested. In weeks past Scott’s experiences on the street opened our eyes to “Hope” being the first thing dropped off. Faith is what kept him alive. Facing the truth with faith inched him closer to a daily sip of hope. Without swallowing you collect enough to swish around in your soul giving birth to chance therefore there will be change. Leo Tolstoy writes, “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” A boss once told me to study the life and style of the Old South before the new pioneers brought with them their northern ideas. By connecting with rural roads and unpaved walks to the mailbox the conversations I’d share on radio’s two speaker stage would reflect a willingness to build a relationship more than to talk at listeners while they worked or fought hard to stay awake during late night drives home. In the Old South families would build several foundations of separated paths on a single structure of land. So, when Julia Cameron questioned, “Have we ever been left high and dry?” My reply was, “Not in the Old South.” A windswept sail down Historic Highway 11 in South Carolina introduces you to a continuation of faith. Where Lifetime might sketch the tales of family love with wagon train circles…the portrait displayed still offers the necessary privacy for individuals to grow without there being someone homeless in the family. But that’s not to say it doesn’t happen within the grounds that makeup inner city living. Scott’s family threw him to the street. He’s vowed to never forget how cold the first night was. He’s so dedicated into helping to change the image of the homeless that this week he stood in front of his family and dedicated his life to going back except this time as a teacher. The phone rings at 2 AM, your heart instantly begins to beat louder than a dogs frightening bark. Your soul whispers, “There’s trouble…” Is someone sick? Injured? How far away are you from getting a call from a brother or sister that says, “I’m homeless.” What’s next? That’s our subject on 2012: The Journey Back to America. We know Scott’s story but not all steps on shattered walkways are the same. While Historic Highway 11 exposes the Old South, introduced today is the Dead Sea and whatever decision you make will or won’t part the waters for there to be a safe journey back home. I am the interviewer. Five questions. Five answers from a family that just learned of a brother’s journey. Take note of the short answers. I say this because a pattern began to take shape three weeks into the blogging project. Everybody is aware of homeless but there are more nobodies than physical bodies willing to help bring peace to the uninvited steps. Interviewer: We learn early in childhood that blood is thicker than water. How bad was the wound in the moments after you learned your brother had been forced to the street? Reply to number one: The news broke my heart. I’m the baby of the family. I was used to him taking care of me. I never thought that I would be the one to help him out of this crucial time. Interviewer: Has any Rescue Mission or church driven program reached out to you by way of educating the family as to what proper measures can save your brother? Reply to number two: None at this present time. But I’m going to reach out to them. Interviewer: Were there any signs of your brother losing hope or any type of fear that he was headed to the street? Reply to number three: My brother is a very strong willed person. If he did have fear he wouldn’t show it. Interviewer: What's next for your brother? Do you reach out to help or let him live on the street? Reply to number four: I’m not sure what is next but I’ll do whatever I can to make a difference. Interviewer: What message do you take back to your children? Reply to number five: That my son isn’t too young to help. He can make a difference in his uncle’s life. Note: During my thirty three years of radio and television broadcast I’ve quizzed the famous as well as independently alone. Easily spotted are the sound bite hounds that say what you want without there being a true entrance into the subject covered. My reaction is to see through their self created walls. Answers that are short, direct and lacking depth deserve to be challenged. I had five more questions… It’s amazing what you locate when you push a little harder. Interviewer: I'm learning that there are several different types of homelessness; from physically having nothing to family disturbances that have left people with no ceiling. How would you describe your personal journey? Reply to number one: 2000 to 2006 was the longest 6 years of my life. It was a very depressing hard struggle. In Dec 2000 I had a child that was born into homelessness. Now to hear of my brother’s losses, this was very hard for me to cope with. Interviewer: Being a woman, wasn't help more available through services such as the YWCA and Salvation Army? Reply to number two: It was pride that kept me from going to the YMCA or Salvation Army. In my mind I thought I could do it on my own. Interviewer: When did you realize that being homeless truly had the strength to take over the rest of your life? Reply to number three: I realized it when things didn’t change. It quickly got worse. No matter where I tried to hide it always seemed like there was no way out. Interviewer: Do you remember who reached into the darkness and pulled you back to America? Reply to number four: Very few people knew that I was homeless. I knew that Jesus was my way out. He had someone out there to help. Note: Stop! This answer instantly took me back to Pastor Flo’s response to Jesus being born into a homeless situation. Interviewer: Because of his travels wasn’t Jesus homeless? Pastor Flo: Absolutely not. Jesus was surrounded by community and people he could interact with. Folks he could teach help and empower. He didn’t own a house (to our knowledge) but he was connected. We customarily define people who do not have shelter as homeless, however some would say that they are “houseless”. Homelessness could be defined as 'An inadequate experience of connectedness with family and or community,' (Dominic Mapstone). This fact is now recognized by Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Program. If the problem was a lack of shelters (then the answer is easy) but more shelters won't solve the problem. Homelessness is about a lack of connectedness. Belonging somewhere is about belonging with other people. Note: Back to final question Interviewer: What are you doing today to prevent homeless from happening again? Reply to number five: I strive to work harder. I’d say more than ever. I never want my son to ever have to go back to that. For me I have to make sure that every choice is a key that opens the door to incredible decisions. Monday, February 06, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Ten...Painted Faces When I accepted the journey in late 2011 to seek out a better view of one of America’s dirtiest words; what I didn’t expect was to uncover a multitude of painted faces. Quickly learned was how Homelessness causes elected officials during Primary season to swiftly run, while those on the hourly move don’t see themselves as doing such. Out Reach programs have redesigned the English language. People of Homelessness gives off a better scent as if to add beauty to a wooded campsite decorated in blue tarps and tossed out mattresses. Forgotten are the backseats of heavily weathered cars where heat arrives from hand designed blankets graphically decorated with nifty lettering that reads Sunday Morning Charlotte Observer. Thank God for rust or the walls offering shelter for this modern caveman might in fact fade them deeper into the soils of never seen with no word heard. I was there when my neighbor lost everything. No matter how deep the cul-de-sac dug to save the family, the identity of the crisis was painted over by a face that changed color but not shape. Pride has a way of making someone feel invisible when in reality the rest of the world can still see you. No week goes untraveled, no day unturned; the enormous amount of different definitions for homelessness weighs down every reason why it remains continuous rather than conquered. Having a mentally challenged brother I’m angrily bothered when told, “Homelessness begins with people like him.” And yet Scott who escaped such conditions will tell you that being mentally unstable invades a person’s decision making process within the first twenty four hours of being on the street. Wikipedia describes Homelessness as a condition without regular dwelling. The internet website believes for one to be homeless means being unable or unwilling to acquire and maintain safe and adequate housing. Pastor Flo from Segal Presbyterian Church believes that’s Houselessness not Homelessness. One look into her eyes and with no doubt the message shared is an introduction to what she’s given her life to; a need to serve a path that leads toward connectedness. To get a better understanding I needed to locate a painted face; someone that played the role in the way of keeping one foot inside the limits of having versus not having. I am the Interviewer. Five questions for Fox 18 WCCB News reporter Jacinda Garabito who placed hidden cameras on the streets of downtown Charlotte. Her main focus was to locate an answer: Do homeless women receive more help from the public than men? I wanted a separate path… In the days that have passed Jacinda has realized what she was introduced to were the magnitudes of the different definitions of homelessness. Her short term experience continues to be held tightly to her soul of an unknowing truth about the outside circles of human behavior. Interviewer: I’ve seen the seen the pictures; during the investigative reporting you were not only a homeless woman but man…being in Broadcasting unrecognized people talk to you every day. Once you changed your outer shell; in either role did anyone of value want to share a conversation? Reply to number one: Only two people. A teenager walked away from his friends and prayed with me while a six year old boy found no reason to be afraid and came right up to me sharply questioning, “Why are you here?” He wasn’t scared. He only wanted to know why I looked different than everyone else. Outside of that they’d say, “Here…” then continue walking away without sharing any type of conversation. Interviewer: Did you personally feel fear? Reply to number two: Yes…when I’d see real homeless people watching me. I knew right away what I was doing was completely disrespectful. If approached the only step offered was to come out of being undercover. I felt horrible knowing once the investigative reporting was over I’d be going to a house with running water and warm heat. It killed me when that situation presented itself! I wanted to explain why I was there. Interviewer: So you felt disconnected. By playing the role of a homeless person you believe that severed a line between you and the homeless and being that you were playing a homeless person there was nothing between you and the business people of downtown Charlotte. Reply to number three: When you have nowhere to go and can’t locate a phone to call someone your mind begins to focus on how cold it is! Nobody wants to look at you. Disconnected isn’t a big enough word. You can’t describe what you’re feeling. When that teenager came over to me want wanted to share prayer you have no idea how badly I needed it! His exact words were, “I want you to know Jesus Christ still loves you…” I can’t imagine being out there for days, months and years. Then to hear the shelters are full? It was 29 degrees! Interviewer: Scott has mentioned in several interviews how quickly the human spirit loses hope…how long did it take you? Reply to number four: Within minutes. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how giving people were or weren’t. The quietness hurts! Watching people, mother’s with their children that are happy on young adults on dates or business men and women going home…it injures you immediately. I was sitting there trying to keep from saying, “I’m done with this! Interviewer: Unemployment may be down but many families are still without and may not recover without being forced from their homes. What do you say to a woman that has put pride above everything? Reply to number five: You need to know there are non-profit organizations that are there to help you. You need to take advantage of their help before it’s too late. When you say we’re on the verge of losing everything you need to seek help without letting pride kill you. Google things like I need money. Churches pop up. Organizations, programs and councilors are out there that can help you today. I recently spoke at a women’s shelter that teaches people how to get a job. Their purpose is to get you back on your feet. The daily goal should be keep reaching outward to find them. The computers at the library are free! Yes you may have to go back to waitressing, pizza delivery or telemarketing. It’s still an income! It will help keep you off the street. Tuesday, February 14, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America: Page Eleven Off The Record Somewhere lost in the center of the mix rests the gentle voice, a vow to confess, to set free without having to say it’s me. “We’re off the record right?” “Depends on what you’d like to share…” came my quick reply with a signature Arroe giggle stylishly trying to keep the interviewee motivated to move into a deeper side of his experiences. “I can’t. I mean… I was standing right there. I heard it!” More times than many, accepting the paths of chance and change requires more than a willingness to listen first without having to react. In doing so a code of silence sticks to the walls of your soul like rotted gum swallowed six years eleven months before. Preachers, Priest’s, Ministers and others behind spiritual curtains are expected to be listeners without having judgment. Taught are the lessons of books already written therefore anything you might think is unique or one of kind is but a tailspin of connections that have collided in ways that resemble the marks left in sand dunes nearly turned stone. “Can I trust that you’ll keep this out of your homeless story?” “But if I hold back, doesn’t that make me one of them? I know nothing of locating a cure. I’m a radio guy who talks over Hootie and Blowfish song intros not a television reporter scraping the core of society for a boost in ratings.” “So nothing stays off the record with you?” “How would you react if you the writer? What would you be thinking right now if the person being interviewed, who made a choice to share a candy stained conversation was near an opening? Nothing about survival! No mention of mental conditions beyond the streets. Not a gang member, thief or a modern day society escape artist giving twenty or more reasons why being out here is the new frontier. But you held an experience that has influenced groups to form but poor leadership has led to decisions that might resurface a long standing highway.” “I’m tired of the homeless being described or identified as being only one type of person. It exhausts me to think the men and women who were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan are returning to the very soils they fought for only to find no roof, no heat and no walls to hang pictures. Are we off the record or not?” “No… I can’t take something from you and keep it a secret. The only reason why I challenged myself to write this 52 week blog was to educate a public that’s completely numb on reality. You’re asking me to continue feeding societies addiction to out of sight out of mind.” “Then take what you have and call back if you need something added to what’s been cleared for discussion.” “Wait…wait! If I go totally off the record can you give me something positive to put on web pages? Give me the name of the biggest best group of highly dedicated and determined community leaders that have taken what you’ve experienced to a level of changing lives for the good. I’ll do everything within my creative power to give them all the credit deserved. You’ll be 100% out of the picture!” Click Homelessness is a silent subject. The ink may dry but true writers never stop listening. His exact words were, “It exhausts me to think the men and women who were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan are returning to the very soils they fought for only to find no roof, no heat and no walls to hang pictures. I deal with life through pages. You’re never guaranteed a full layout of beginning, middle and end therefore the heart chooses to listen, to patiently wait. Conversations don’t suddenly appear unless fate has been given permission to set you up for delivery. In the following pages I learned of nationally recognized comedian Pam Stone hosting a night of laughter and fun for war veterans in South Carolina. To read her reactions on Face Book about meeting warriors from wars that have taken shape in history books no longer studied took me back to the choices I made to stay on or off the record. Newscasts, churches and talk between family members and friends can’t be wrong; to serve this nation on grounds governed by separate decisions and lifestyles can lead to homelessness upon your return. Camping near Mount Morrow outside of Albemarle, NC I introduced myself to a United States Warrior who sat three days from having to return to Afghanistan. His eyes told no story. His emotions loved this nation. His words were not made out of fear. His conversations were directed at his two Maltese dogs that refused to leave his side. They held him tighter than any woman could love her man. “Will you be afraid to come home?” I asked… Monday, February 20, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Twelve The Window While sifting through radio Monday demands, I catch flashes of universal peace impatiently resting on the edge of a large dark tinted 12x5 foot double pane studio window. Far from a forest the stations foundation lives yet through the evenly lined trees put in play by highway crews now long gone; one might believe he or she has a connection to something incredibly beautiful and absolutely free. A side of me wants to laugh at the naked tree limbs that almost next to never seem to shiver; they act as if Spring begins inside ten minutes. Who better to sing its highest praise than sharply dressed male Cardinals, punk rock Woodpeckers with their combs perfectly gelled to scrape the sky and the occasional owl that drops in to observe a recent wind storm and its damage to a tree cut in two. Most belonging to the human figure family might take note and softly whisper an honest, “Ohhh.” Never do they take note of the celebration beneath the elements of what isn’t seen; a picture of earthly crawlers like spiders, rabbits and snakes; ants, termites and a poet’s deepest dream feasting on the part of the tree they can now easily reach. A window is a place to play, to take well deserved mental breaks or to find an uneven round square with giant purple pimples; for it is here in the dimples of cause and effect that unexpected smiles and sad faces are given the gift of being able to see through things. A window isn’t a wall but quite possibly this generation’s greatest storyteller. It is here that I find myself wondering about those passing by at speeds well over 55. Carried is a busy mind, worries that constantly add weight to fear, needs that feel like they’re never met and punctuation on the face of a computer that can easily be corrected by manmade devices but in the land of Tweets and Face Book entries…nobody is perfect. I mean, we expect imperfection. According to Artist Way author Julia Cameron without People Magazine we’d have nothing to compare our bad days to. Therefore the announcement of one in fifty children born today faces homelessness is nothing more than an image to compare our chapters with. Mind melting as a kid dressed up in adult dreams were the mystical mirages spotted on hotter than usual summer days on longer than life journeys to the beach, mountains or other means of escape. Once there my sister would leap from the car and instantly begin to compare. At this present moment there are 298,000 homeless families in America. At no other time has there been this many children without windows and the walls that hold them in place. Like a mirage that snuggles next to a vivid imagination what is felt is a need to compare, a release of thankfulness, maybe a prayer, “Thank you God for not making me one of those having to live out there.” Project Night Night is a non-profit organization that recognizes the worth of the tree. Rather than rush to bury the roots while burning each limb in fireplaces that heal the human demand to constantly be kept warm. Project Night Night gives life back to the children whose palms have been blackened by the definition of “nothing.” Having nothing affects a homeless child’s academic achievement. As much as you want to believe that living on the street sharpens a warriors skills, a child with no window faces endless frequent moves, a sickening lack of privacy while enduring psychological distress. My Monday window serves as a place of peace. I’m constantly sharing stories with coworkers and friends about wanting to feel what it must be like to live so open and freely. Comparing without staring into the soul of truth. What I see through the studio window fails to reveal what a homeless child experiences hourly; the difficulty of locating a quiet place to study. What if your place of business took from its treasured space on a foundation planted in the soils of a once alive America and molded a window for a homeless child to see through? On the opposite side of this radio station control board where I currently sit there’s a desk for any child that wants nothing more out of life than a place to set free their imagination. Project Night Night takes from the fallen tree and feeds all other living things. Windows on walls aren’t the only pictures held tightly therefore they share over 25,000 books a year with homeless children. If you can’t spare a desk for a child to study than invite a child to another window; in this age of Kendles, Nooks and Ipads; valued is the choice to take from your shelves and boxes hidden in corners darker than fear and let them fill the palms of willing readers. While walking through Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC one instantly takes note of how much the Vanderbilt’s loved to read. Thousands of big, little, thick, leather and hardcovered chapter’s are perfectly placed in ways to make wsnderer’s gasp with a solid, “Wow.” Am I the only one that stood in those unforgettably designed libraries and thought, “What a complete waste of a very good tree; rather than collect dust on a rich man’s wall these books should be serving the purpose of why the tree sacrificed its life. To be a window for all children especially those no longer holding dreams.” Monday, February 27, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Thirteen: Maker's Of Relief If I had known the multiple faces of Homelessness were pasted on the maker’s of relief, I wouldn’t know how to react in conversation. I’m attracted to the word Homeless like a kitten sipping warm milk; not a worry in the world as long as the farmer continues to squeeze from the impatient cow the combined ingredients of open fields and manmade shaped deliveries. A journey; larger than expected dark places, hidden spaces but nothing replaces the drawn out excuses often seen as silence that have masterfully reprinted the original imprint as to why open ideas have evolved into closed options. I’ve yet to meet the person that doesn’t get it! The shadowed circles under America’s eyes are on the rise. Of the many, just a few have a clue; unrecognized is the constantly changing soils not beneath a homeless man’s feet but the unpredictable easily dissectible heart of the career driven’s desire to keep air in their tires. A coworker; new to the city not yet introduced to my writing journey, “I’m amazed at the number of homeless people in this town! Someone needs to get out there and sweep the streets!” I said nothing, didn’t even share a false grin. I sat in the studio chair just staring, listening, never once believing they were the maker of relief. To be requires more than money and or items made of straw to seemingly easily swoop from side to side as if to erase what time can no longer hide. Who then is a maker of relief? Casually I walked into a soup kitchen yesterday. I wanted to meet with someone whose warm soul had evolved into the farmer’s fingers strong enough to squeeze from a body not belonging to him a flow of energy that would become a lifeline to a beast not having any connection other than the occasional visit. I am the interviewer: I asked only five questions. Interviewer: What influenced you to sacrifice career growth, space and happiness to want to be here? Cee’s reply to first question: Every day I drove uptown I’d see the same people everybody else did. The street corners were full of men and women with no heat, walls to keep the wind away and movement in the way of protecting what little they might have left. I’d look at myself in the rearview mirror and ask, “Are you seriously going to try to ignore this?” Then I had one of those days at work, where I gave everything away to bosses and clients that truly didn’t care. Running into the men’s room to hide my emotions I caught my reflection in the mirror and asked, “Are you seriously going to try to ignore this?” I knew at that moment something much larger than me had opened a window. It was time to locate someone that would appreciate my passion for preparing food. Interviewer: You don’t suddenly open a Soup Kitchen. Cee’s reply to question two: No you don’t. Papers need to be filed, giant business people with very large names require meetings, churches have to believe and those providing the food need to be convinced that your vision isn’t something that’s here today gone tomorrow. It’s not an easy journey. Interviewer: Why do your eyes tell me that people with larger than life names hasn’t been your biggest challenge? Cee’s reply to question three: I felt blessed in the beginning. Friends, family and coworkers said they’d volunteer. Look around you! I’m the only one in the kitchen! I still have to go to the city meetings. I still have to meet with religious leaders. More importantly I push myself out onto the streets to pass out notes to homeless men and women by way of trying to convince them that I have a warm meal at my kitchen. They won’t come! If I bring the meal to them, they’ll eat it. But the thought of walking two blocks, maybe a mile to the kitchen here at the church they feel is a trap; as if I’m going to start spouting the word of God when all I want to do is make sure they have nourishment. Interviewer: How do you learn to get around the Bible thumping fear? Cee’s reply to question four: I find them. I locate their favorite corner. I take toothpaste to them, soap, underarm deodorant, underwear. Whatever it’s going to take to show them I how real I am and my only wish is to reach out help. It hurts me deeply. I assumed homeless people want a meal. Interviewer: If it hurts so bad…why don’t you stop? Cee’s reply to question five: Because I know where I’m supposed to be. I just didn’t know the road getting there would be incredibly difficult. I got caught up in my own reasons for reaching out and didn’t realize the enormous amount of people that didn’t share the same feelings. It seemed like an incredibly warm thing to do; to be in the kitchen with the chef only to realize it wasn’t about having fun but physically creating enough nourishment to survive another night. I swear this is where I’m supposed to be! I want so badly to take what I know and create it for a nation of people that have nothing. But why don’t they understand that it’s not connected to religion? It’s a table in a warm room. It’s a free meal that isn’t caked with too much salt. I want them to live a happy life by eating right. Why won’t they walk two more blocks? I can’t keep taking it to them. There are no walls to keep the cold out! Monday, March 05, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Fourteen: Children Of The Night Before December 2011 set its presence on horizons often born too early, the beginning of this look within at those without carried with it several unprotected shapes of shadows from nearly every corner; a sun-like delivery by way of chasing high noon before setting on midnight. The light was always brightest when asked, “When will you write about the children of the night?” Only to answer, “I have to understand homelessness first.” It’s too easy to open a book, leap onto a website or attend a church sermon. The term Out Reach tells me to keep reaching. As a writer, what I understand doesn’t always resembled carefully sculpted scripts of local television newscasts. It’s seems too plastic in a world where the moment a decision to set free all that you’ve dreamed can easily get caught in the currents of separate shores offering a variety of choices. Although for months I’ve become actively involved in a soup kitchen, serving, sharing, smiling and listening to every story offered through unheard of levels of trust…I still freeze with barely a word to mumble when face to face with the cold soul of societies challenged. I want to instantly make right only to realize my personal pockets are nearly as empty. So I rely on the voice God gave me to hold up the mountain long enough for them to pass under to the other side. A writing instrument tightly gripped for its story could easily escape Singer/Songwriter Richard Marx scratched into the surface of a once living tree the lyrics that would help teach an unknowing people of America’s Children of the Night: All that I know in my life, I have learned on the street No magic carpet, no genie, no shoes on my feet Will I wake up from this nightmare? A fear that chills me to the bone Though I may be one of many I feel so all alone We are the children of the night We won't go down without a fight Our voice is strong, our future's bright And thanks to what we learned from you We've grown into the children of the night Left by my father with only this scar on my face Told by my mother that, "No, you were just a mistake" I have tasted my own hunger Sold my body to survive Some have paid to scratch the surface But they can't touch what's inside We are the children of the night We won't go down without a fight Our voice is strong, our future's bright And thanks to what we learned from you We've grown into the children of the night How I long for something better Than this life I know too well Lord, I know I'm bound for heaven Cause I've done my time in hell We are the children of the night We won't go down without a fight Our voice is strong, our future's bright And thanks to what we learned from you We've grown into the children of the night Publicly created and funded by “real” people with hearts too large just for just daytime travel, light not only began to grow in darkness in 1979 but voices so often shoved aside no longer swam through storms worn out and silent. The purpose of there being a program called Children of the Night was to become a solid stone set in the center of a large ocean of I don’t cares; to help teens forced into surviving the street through methods that embarrass parents, decision makers and others whose life and style have the ability and financial foundation to invite peace but turn the other way. In weeks past we’ve spent time with extremely young Mother’s whose children were protected by personal vows to hold onto any rope tossed no matter what time of night. We’ve sat with Scott during vivid memories of fighting to stay alive on streets where having law and order isn’t governed by people voted into office. Middle aged parents now unemployed having to share with their children the potential of being homeless by summer and single men and women who found strength in their own business worlds to learn how to speak to a person of homelessness. But never have we stepper deeper into the scent of invisible shreds baring the identity of sacrificing morals in order to survive. writes: For most of these children, life with a pimp was better than life at home and meager shelter settings cannot compete with the lifestyle afforded through prostitution and association with a pimp. In most cases, the pimp has provided the child with a motive to work as a prostitute and a rationale for deferred gratification. "If you work hard I will put together the money and buy a business and a home and you can have my baby" is a common rationale provided by a pimp. Without sophisticated shelter/home case management and comprehensive social services combined with adequate living quarters, these children will return to the streets because underfunded and underdeveloped shelter/homes cannot compete with the promises of a pimp. America's children victimized by prostitution require intense residential services where they are given an opportunity to be a child – sometimes for the first time in their lives. They need to attend school in a safe environment, to have their medical and psychological needs met and to have access to safe living arrangements when they enter adulthood. Residential care for American children is expensive and often times these children are not as sympathetic or inexpensive to care for as those in other countries. Children of the Night is the only full-service program in North America designed specifically for American children who have been forced to prostitute right here in the United States – girls AND boys. Most of these children have been forced to prostitute in hot-sheet motels and truck stops and many have been held in jails on "material witness holds" until they testify against a pimp/trafficker. Until they have reached the Children of the Night home, life with a pimp may have been better than home or the detention centers where they have been held. Where do we stand? It costs nothing for politicians to stand on podiums spouting guarantees and promises and yet fewer dollars are being made at work. CEO’s and GM’s are getting away with take home pay murder. Economic impact from manmade financial falls might have the backing of other corporations but “Real” People from “Real” America aren’t Humpty Dumpty and as much as Channel 9 News continues to explain the Recession is over no moment passes that I don’t hear from a family member, friend, coworker or someone whose computer landed on this blog that types in: I’ll be homeless in a week. I don’t know where to turn? What if it happens to you? Might morals no longer serve the keeper? Do you become the one that turns their back or the open palm of peace? For at any time, when tough life changing decisions are being made; not a mind walks upon this planet that cannot be taught how to act and react therefore at any age we can all become Children of the Night. Monday, March 12, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America: Page Fifteen Keep Loving Those Pets I can’t imagine being handed a destiny I didn’t choose and attempt to walk it without the companionship of a pet. We’ve learned over the past fifteen weeks that being lost inside society with no roof to stay dry or walls to help warm that mentally the challenges are met with endless hope and or every reason to stop reaching and just become a part of the hidden depths of what nobody wants to talk about. But is a homeless man, woman or family truly alone if what warms their heart are the mind body and soul of a cat or dog molded from the skin of unconditional love and trust? Five to ten percent of the homeless find peace while sharing companionship with a pet. Sadly, those innocent eyes, unexpected midnight kisses and cuddles when bitter becomes too cold are just as hungry as the humans walking the streets like a Sheppard frozen in chapters past. Not all homeless families live on the street; most find blessed love and support at state supported shelters but at the cost of sacrificing the pet. Very rarely does a homeless man’s one time protector make it beyond the city pound it’s been delivered to unless word reaches angelic travelers that own and operate private life saving kennels connected to operations like But not everybody can take in another cat or dog. Veterinarian expenses and daily food costs are forcing families to make unheard of decisions. is a nonprofit organization that not only provides pet food to dogs and cats still owned by the homeless but they cover veterinarian costs. Although I can never prove it because private rescues don’t have to disclose but my Maltese Harold had to have been one of these dogs. To be so incredibly respectful, highly trained and be in a program designed to locate new owners doesn’t fit the typical theory of he couldn’t get along with others. I always wanted to know why someone dumped him. Not locating the answer has drawn me closer to others only to realize this nation faces more than a human homelessness crisis but homeless pets is an epidemic. Five questions: Five answers. I am the interviewer. Interviewer: How can normal people who already have pets help? Answer to question one: Spreading the word of the missions involved in finding homes for pets that once belonged to the homeless. Open your websites and blogs to the idea of creating a connection to Phone calls can be made emails and word of mouth serve as the best way to share the word. Interviewer: Can a person volunteer to reach out? Answer to question two: So often people find their way to help out a soup kitchen or shelter; trying opening the door to assisting a dog or cat. They can help by providing food, walks, medical help or other means. Interviewer: Volunteers can be recruiters? What is it and how can the average person get involved? Answer to question three: We need people to ask veterinarians for help, pet stores, groomers and others willing to help a nonprofit organization. They can become a collection site for food, materials such as flea medication or heartworm. Interviewer: Not everybody is a great sales person. It’s difficult to talk so openly about what affects your heart. What are other ways people can help? Answer to question four: When we receive large bags of food we need people to separate it into baggies. It really is like a Food Bank or Soup Kitchen except it’s for pets. It’s our goal to make sure the proper quantity is delivered. We don’t send homeless pet owners out into the world with a twenty five pound bag of dog food. Becoming part of such programs is our unconditional love and support to pets in need. Another great program is the Sleeping Crate Project where we put sleeping crates in shelters complete with pet food, blankets and cleaning supplies. Interviewer: How can homeless grants bring change to something society keeps as its biggest little secret? Answer to question five: Many local veterinarians and nonprofit organizations know of the Pets of the Homeless Grant Program. Grants are shared to help defer costs while providing immunizations, de-worming, flea and tick care neutering and other care. Find out more at I’m shocked by the number of people that’ll react to a major corporation’s hidden charge on credit cards and billing statements but sit silent when pets suffer. Some hug trees while others waste paper. The line in the sand is vividly clear. But know in your heart if fate bites what you own today that someone will be there for you tonight to guarantee your pets safety. Why can’t that be a reason to try and unbury the truth about homelessness in America? Monday, March 19, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Sixteen: Unmask The Spade I'm not satisfied. The answers being delivered are weak. Especially when nearly every question sits silent. People of power prefer to walk away; letters emails and personal phone calls go unanswered. The most used excuse," What can I say that would benefit your reasons for this blog?" Why would a radio disc jockey want to step out of the box and look into what’s taking place within the circles, squares and hidden away challenges of a listening audience that’s been part of his life for nearly thirty years? I serve no reason other than to educate. No dramatic undercover ratings chaser. No secret society trying to catch violators and or political big talkers that haven't lifted a finger since the election. I set out on a 52 week journey to share the story of a growing nation. A community of people expected to survive and or be driven to a social state where every decision made must be cleared by those controlling an element required in order to survive. Is it wrong to hurt when old films and documentaries speak of the Old South as being a sliver of America’s third world structure and status? The most recent was a biography on President Bill Clinton where the narrator uttered 1978. Only to those born after do you not find fault in such deliveries of chapters well written. Visionaries can’t put focus on the future unless they’ve been connected to the past or so I assume. I didn't expect to walk into crowded silent corners. I assumed Homelessness being as marketed as it is in magazines, church bulletins and television public service announcements that it must be something people are reaching out to. To offer affordable change, introduce faces of victory or even help friends and family who have recently lost their homes due to a lingering financial crunch. Nothing... So I began to think about Pastor Flo's explanation, "Is it a person without a house or do the assumed Homeless have no community?" People of houselessness are not one in the same when compared to anyone lacking fellowship or community. In a bizarre way, my not gaining access to a community of spoken saviors dedicated to helping people of houselessness has actually made me Homeless. Their reasons for not sharing are unacceptable solely based on selfish reasons to allow a new community to be created. If Homelessness is connected to having no community then who else falls into a tailspin of shoved into the closet skeletons that shall remain unspoken? How about depression? Someone suffering from depression enters each day feeling like they have no community of support therefore wouldn’t that make them Homeless? On CBS, “60 Minutes” reported on March 18, 2012 that our nation continues to crash in the department of American depression. Rather than act as a legalized pusher the network unveiled the presence of happy pill medical officials controlled by patients that refuse to understand the difference between what is and isn't normal. Snap shot six hours earlier at Siegel Presbyterian Church; Pastor Flo explains to her congregation that our hearts have become so hard that no man or woman walks on the soil believing they weren’t to be wild. “No!” She blared loudly into the room of music loving Sunday morning students who knew of the song but not necessarily of the message. “You weren’t born to be wild! That’s why we live in depression! That’s why we have failures in family staying together! You were born to love!” 60 Minutes continues, “One in ten people suffer from depression. But is it truly depression?” When you aren’t up with people, aren’t being productive at work and life’s everyday challenges are met with taller mountains what is the depressed feeling? A lack of community! Therefore you are Homeless! Not houseless but without companionship, support, acceptance and leadership. I’ve been to four martial arts schools since being introduced to the ancient art in 2002. Not one page is written with a clear sense of belonging. My multitudes of belts feature the fingerprints of different masters with completely individualized ideas, destinations and importations of process. I’ve written several times about not feeling like I was part of. What is the difference between a man or woman with no house and a group of martial artists with no set teacher? Socially speaking; there isn’t a difference. To understand homelessness you have to seek its deeper roots. To understand that most of us who walk forward daily are in fact homeless by way of not feeling like we belong. Amendment One sits in no closet and will get louder the closer we get to the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte, NC. If political leaders and the highest courts were to strongly suggest that residents of this nation could no longer love their pets I would feel the greatest emptiness. Therefore my emotions would be homeless knowing lawmakers put into place by the people who have the right to vote for what they believe have taken from me the great gift shared by God…love. Amendment One isn’t about pets but the alienation of love in a country where divorce stands at 52% truly gives reason to feel as if they are alone. No community! No support! No compassion! No acceptance in many of the circles unless it’s through a popular vote. Maybe our houseless problem in America is pale and not worthy of the weight I assumed was there. Maybe the better answer can be found in our in homelessness. But without proper education and a full understanding of the paths that each of us share hourly, daily and year by year we have become hard in the heart for no American should ever have the right to tell another person how love is born. Grow forward not through methods of propaganda but the realisms of what happens to love when it’s been bathed in silence. Whichever path you follow I will always believe in you first… Watch the politicians run from me now. Monday, March 26, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Seventeen: The Survivor Eighteen feet deep into a fifty two foot mud wall; the view carries an unexpected, unrecognized scent. Boulders the size of impossibility laced with ongoing outside disconnections scratched by those before me who’ve elected to stop teaching. And for what reasons other than the politics faced on both sides of survival. Massive amounts of opinions agree Homelessness remains unsolved? The farther I travel the image becomes harshly unclear through methods of word use; what is and isn’t Homelessness versus Houselessness versus Hungry or just willing to let go and live freely without daily weight. How many wait to fall? I’m the foolish heart for laying his head on the surface of an extremely cold economic ground to hear the sound of a distant rush. Is it a running of the waves away from the shores of good times and great memories? With summer arriving in March of 2012 how far are the footsteps of another Dust Bowl? Where will the people go? Might we be setting ourselves up for another Gold Rush like that ingredients that made San Francisco a city and California a state? If life had been as brilliant as the newspaper and politicians connected had said would so many have gotten up one morning and thought, “I’m leaving the comfort of what I know to seek nothing more than what I don’t.” The CEO of BB&T a major Top Ten American bank announced over the weekend his dislike for Wall Street and financial gamblers, “We need leaders that embrace the spirit of America. There needs to be change!” Would I care so much if I hadn’t been in the car watching a tattered smile with nearly nice clothes sitting next to a storefront curb asking nothing from people yet we naturally guessed she was homeless? She taught the wind that bitterly cold day that fate doesn’t have her name nor was it within her vow to play the game created by a competing bank whose layoffs have been in the thousands. Her name was on the list forcing a trickledown effect of emotion and with nothing to grab to save her life and style the assumption was she had become Homeless. I wrote a song about the conversation we shared. It’s through her strength that each of these pages is dedicated. The Survivor… Monday, April 02, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Eighteen: Trail Of Tears In small neighborhood gatherings the conversation begins, “Did you see the two stray dogs?” Other circles unveil, “I don’t know about Brenda collecting all those dogs. You can’t save everything!” How about, “We can’t afford to feed the dog or find the bucks to fix Buck at the vet. If we can’t find someone to help the only choice is to dump.” For the love of God; that tore at the core of my love for animals. How dare I type such nonsense into the face of this emotionless computer screen? Then again, how would you react if the bright colors of the eyes that give you sight took note of a recent study released by Rolling Stone Magazine that claims economic conditions have forced 50,000 dogs to live on the streets of Detroit. For a brief moment that actually painted a crisis in my heart. But who am I to display such art? I want to be loud about it! Because I do know who I am! Yet, every step taken is met by cold heart rolled eyes, closed doors and lost paths connected to deeper pockets and misrepresented accusations from neighbors, coworkers and visitors to a pet store that have traded shouting in for mumbling, “Crazy *** freaks go find a tree to hug.” If 50,000 human figures from the same city were thrust into homeless what would be the general reaction? Being an election year and we all know playing politics is a lifelong career how would Decision Maker’s repaint the lanes on both sides of the economic highway? Stop! Let me explain “Both sides” The headlines read: Homelessness is on the increase. The sign doesn’t say: Investigations into corrupt business procedures and the cost of ego driven CEO’s and out of control managing teams has led to more American’s being without. Nobody wants to deal with the reality of why the silent killer is no longer heart attacks. A radio commercial playing on a local news talk station hosts the voice of an extremely successful financial advisor whose single choice in life is to clearly state, “My students make more money when Wall Street is down then they do when it’s up.” Stop! What does that have to do with dogs? Now that the government has cleared the way for small businesses to participate in the Stock Market game; corporate gains explain why competition continues to be null and void in a Wall Mart driven state of success. Dogs! Bark! Bark! The high cost of fuel, food and medical help to quickly heal burns down the walls holding up the roof. First to go is breakfast and lunch, next air conditioning and heat, maybe cable television. In Detroit vacant homes have become places of rest for once loved fuzzy cuddly bark makers. Where is Sara McLachlan’s six minutes Public Service announcement based on saving dogs in Detroit? Bozeman, Montana? Reno, Nevada? Fingerville, NC? Rolling Stone reports 90% of the dogs roaming the streets found their paws not printed but tattooed with economic plight. The burden became too much for their owners. Shelters euthanize; therefore people turn their pets loose by way of not having to carry the weight of being response for the death of their pet. Rap artist Dan Carlisle has elected not to be silent. His YouTube video vividly displays the haunting pictures of dog survival. Because city officials in Detroit continue to disconnect themselves from having more negative blogs, news reports and videos based on the state of their economy…the nation’s poorest major city refuses to put forth the effort of change. They can’t financially afford it! In the last Census Detroit’s population has plummeted from over a million to just over 700.000 residents. If city leaders fail to enact more budget balancing, Michigan’s Governor has threatened a state takeover. The dogs! You’re talking human stuff! It is well documented that dogs are man’s best friend. Guess what’s happening? Man ain’t livin up to his agreement to unconditional love. If 50,000 people suddenly lost their jobs you’d hear about it. If 50,000 chunks of hail fell from sky we’d think, “That’s nothing…” I stood high atop a Palm Fest stage yesterday afternoon introducing my song Rebirth, “It’s about finding yourself and everything that makes up the person you are. The Government isn’t interested in your walk through life without a home or not having a family strong enough to pull you out. This song is about finding the ability to believe during times when elected officials and businessmen find financial gain in your fall.” The dogs! Get back to the dogs! Where on the list of survival does your dog get eliminated? At least we know in Detroit. Monday, April 09, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Nineteen: The Debate I don’t know where to stand? If being politically correct is the eye of every storm where in history do we stand to gain ground? Someone needs to come up with a list of rules that clearly state what is and isn’t accepted inside a behavioral challenged nation. A marketing department recently reached out to homeless men and women offering an opportunity to make money if they agreed to be an internet hot spot. Being one who owns a Verizon Zoom fully capable of instantly becoming a hot spot for up to five internet seeking passerbies, I thought, “Wow! What an incredible way to get money into the palms of people who need it! They’ll earn it the old fashioned way. Work!” I’m going to hell for thinking like that… Being associated with several different styles of marketing departments that are constantly under hourly pressure from major corporations to be a leading cutting edge with methods of getting the word out to a DVR addicted consumer; becoming a hot spot at a major national event didn’t seem dramatically incorrect. The New York Times reports that this year’s South by Southwest technology conference has earned no credit for community involvement but rather criticism. Homeless people as wireless transmitters has sparked a fire. The smartphone-toting, social-networking crowds often overwhelm cellular networks in the area, creating a market that BBH Labs hoped to serve with the “Homeless Hotspots” project, which it called a “charitable experiment.” It paid each participant $20 a day, and they were also able to keep whatever customers donated in exchange for the wireless service. ***note: You know of my associations with marketing departments. 2am promotional giveaways in dirty bars and private clubs didn’t pay this much. The reason behind the uproar is based on the act as being exploitative and discomfiting. Tim Carmody, a blogger at Wired, described the project as “completely problematic” and sounding like “something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia.” I had to go directly to Scott who escaped the hidden streets to become a leading businessman in the south. “Do you find these actions as being what Tim describes?” “Are you kidding? I lived with people whose only job that day was to steal food from grocery stores. I would’ve loved to have had an opportunity like this!” The New York Times continues with an introduction to Mr. Radia who says he modeled the hot spot project after the street newspapers that homeless people sell for a dollar. “We saw it as a means to raise awareness by giving homeless people a way to engage with mainstream society and talk to people,” he said. “The hot spot is a way for them to tell their story.” Mitchell Gibbs, the director of development at Front Steps, the shelter that houses the project volunteers, said he advised Mr. Radia on how best to set up the program. He said he was surprised by all the criticism of the project, which he said had inspired an “entrepreneurial spirit” among its homeless participants. “It’s an employment opportunity, regardless of who is offering it,” Mr. Gibbs said. A heated Scott shouts through the phone, “People don’t understand the importance of survival! In a day of choices anyone on the street has a physical choice and it’s ultimately up to you to see an opportunity like this and begin the process of gaining access to other jobs such as cleaning bathrooms or taking out the trash at convenience stores.” The NY Times put focus on one volunteer, Clarence Jones, 54 who said he was originally from New Orleans and became homeless in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “Everyone thinks I’m getting the rough end of the stick, but I don’t feel that,” Mr. Jones said. “I love talking to people and it’s a job. An honest day of work and pay.” But the program’s critics zeroed in on the divide between its impoverished vendors and Internet-bubble customers. Adam Hanft, chief executive of the marketing advisory firm Hanft Projects, said that even if the effort was well intended, it seemed to turn a blind eye to that disconnect. “There is already a sense that the Internet community has become so absurdly self-involved that they don’t think there’s any world outside of theirs,” he said. Scott continued, “The people that you allow into your life help you find the proper footing and this truly seems like something that those who don’t know the true picture of homelessness are trying to control.” So again I write: I don’t know where to stand? If being politically correct is the eye of every storm where in history do we stand to gain ground? Especially when the majority of today’s unemployed and or are creatively addicted to having an ailment that makes them a qualification for disability would never accept 20 bucks a day to be a hot spot. As one man said to me, “That’s extremely below my view of where I’d like to be in life.” Monday, April 16, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Twenty One: Amendment One Warning: The content of this blog is very real. It is not intended to sway your personal opinion and or vote by use of politics or propaganda. It’s my goal as a Broadcaster to serve my community as a reporter sharing news that affects the lives of people you know have known and one day will know. 52 weeks. This being the 21st… We’ve walked on society’s picture adding to the images of familiar paths; that of men and women with no homes, barely any clothes and hardly if ever an answer as to how one might be accepted as normal again. Tunnels that have connected ideas to invisible trails; hosting forums with women clinging to final pennies of fast fading paychecks not knowing the where to dump built up fears; to mother’s gripping hope inside the open doors of churches and small nonprofit groups and its through their personal experiences that tomorrow comes with better preparation rather than choosing to wander through disbelief while uncovering landscapes of mistaken identity. I keep returning to Pastor Flo’s heartfelt Christmas message about the little boy born in a barn to which I swiftly asked, “Didn’t that make him homeless?” “Houseless yes… Homeless no because being homeless means you’re not surrounded by a community of empowerment.” And that’s where my closed heart suddenly became eyes wide open. The view from the assumed mountain top immediately changed. Questions became thicker as if to be enriched by soils to help prevent instead of nurture a continuation of what politicians and rock stars refuse to be interviewed about yet publically and promotionally they appear to a long awaited solution. Community of empowerment; without it each of us suffer separate shapes of homelessness. You can have the most beautiful 18 foot ceilings inside a home so incredibly breathtaking in Charlotte’s Piper Glenn neighborhood and still be without a foundation or roof over current unguarded steps of reality. This past weekend hundreds of movie theaters made millions of dollars thanks to a documentary that unmasked bullying. The film Bully showcased truth over assumption. Through acts of bullying a lack of community has left many children and adults without roofs over their personal growth. In essence they were homeless. The animated television show South Park took it further helping millions more understand and easily identify what bullying is and how it’s affect on society lead to areas most choose to set aside by way of disconnecting. What South Park did was lift the level of educating the public by clearly exposing that bullying isn’t just a middle and high school illness in America but it stretches deep into the veins of the workplace where Human Resource Departments are expected to protect. And it’s about to get worse… On May 8, 2012 voters in North Carolina will privately walk beyond the clutches of acceptance and digitally document whether they’re for or against Amendment One. The text of the Amendment reads: Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts. What do you think that means? Is it what you assume or have heard about on local TV news and talk radio shows? What does this have to do with homelessness? Stop! When I took on the challenge to write 52 chapters about homelessness the first step was to learn the difference and indifferences that formulate the decisions of the uneducated versus those whose assumed their light is far brighter when in fact they don’t live out the truth path of what they’ve presented. Homelessness: one that is not surrounded by a community of empowerment. If Amendment One is passed children will be harmed; the Amendment strips legal protections from them. A child of an unmarried parent could lose health care and prescription drug coverage putting the child’s health at risk. A child could be taken away from a committed parent who has loved them their entire life if something happens to their other parent. It threatens existing child custody and visitation rights that are designed to protect the best interests of the child. The Amendment harms unmarried women. It could take away domestic violence protections for all unmarried women. Domestic violence protections could only apply to married couples. In Ohio, where a similar amendment passed, this loophole has allowed convictions to be overturned. How does Amendment One affect your parents or future? Seniors shouldn’t have to choose between legal protections and the pensions they need to live. What did you think Amendment One was about? What did you hear? What have you seen? Early voting begins April 19th. Will you walk into your right to vote uneducated? Community of empowerment: Preacher’s, Minister’s, law makers and those who once held positions of decision making are hosting free educational seminars. They want you to know every side of the story. They are doing everything within their power to guarantee this community that homelessness won’t occur. Not houselessness. But homelessness. Whatever your decision just know where the future grows and why the leaves of change are positioned in the places they arrive. This isn’t about evolution but a revolution of very loud voices whose lights seem bright but do they live they paths they promise? Make your mark on history by guaranteeing the future with something solid and not assumed. Monday, April 23, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Twenty One: Homeless Dumping My stepfather Joe was never ending with his jagged as a sword accusations based on how he viewed my addiction to being glued to the news, “Stop trying to be a know it all!” Had he known the real reasons for this connection he might have offered a better understanding as to how to achieve a good night’s sleep rather than be self punished by rhythms of fear that shattered protective barriers keeping a growing mind from having nightmares. I figured if I always knew what the world was up to…I’d have time to prepare for the worst. A budding teen set free in the fourth largest state in America didn’t grant me permission to tip milk maker’s at midnight but it taught me the importance of un-fencing my Montana gates, creating paths without having to rely on the metal bars of cattle guards and sharper than nails barbed wire. Basically meaning the roaring thunder of Joe’s voice deepened my passion to seek information more than resurrecting a “Be seen but never heard” appearance in a world plagued by the Vietnam War, a mid-70’s gas shortage, a Middle East that had stolen 52 innocent American’s, terrorism generated by someone called Kaddafi and a cold war with Russia that drew words from a junior high History teacher that spoke of big bombs in the middle of night with barely 45 minutes to take cover. Then Nina released the song 99 Luft Balloons. Today, nearly fifty chapters into a book I didn’t read but lived; something new flew from the information highway that didn’t captivate my attention but fed the flow of a journey dubbed 2012 The Journey Back to America. What does homelessness have to do with a child’s fear? Had putting up these mile markers on the umbilical cords of news making introduced the writer in me to find roots with no leaves sticking above a suns reason to heat? What did I see? Or was it something I heard? Is this the act of a former radio announcer that failed in the four in a row without talk format trying to be a know it all? I can answer that: Decision makers with painted empty pockets can take a Broadcaster off their set of twin speakers but nobody can disconnect him or her from the passion that drives the desire toward the community they’ve dedicated every breath to. Joe might never read 2012 Journey Back to America but it’s through these page that someone, even if it’s just one will learn more about what homelessness is versus what society has taught you to believe it isn't. Over the past twenty one weeks we’ve stepped into more holes while covering up nothing. Only to be introduced to: Homeless dumping. The official Wikipedia description: Homeless dumping is the practice of hospital employees or emergency workers releasing homeless patients on the streets instead of placing them into the custody of a relative, a warming center or shelter or retaining them in a hospital where they may require expensive medical care.[1][2] Many homeless people who have mental health problems can no longer find a place in a mental institution since the trend towards mental health deinstitutionalization from the 1960s onwards.[3][4] Instantly I’m taken back to the blog based on learning how to talk to a person of homelessness. The inspiration behind it was my failure as a Broadcaster to know how to properly reach out, reach through, to help out or move around. I was introduced to a man chugging down a cigarette like a Red Bull racing to fire up the soul of a dragging businessman’s tail. Sharper than the barbed wire that keeps a farmer’s investments inside he denied being homeless while catching me up on a nicely typed letter that graciously explained how the hospital wouldn’t let him back inside until he gained control of the habit. MSNBC reports that Los Angeles police have busted hospital employees for homeless dumping. A paraplegic man was escorted back to the streets in a well decorated hospital ambulance then set free wearing nothing but a dirty gown. Authorities were quickly notified after witnesses wrote down the phone number featured on the van. MSNBC didn’t let the story set low and out of sight on newscasts broadcast late at night. The network continued to push forward feeding information to viewers based on how the case came three months after the L.A. City attorney’s office had filed its first indictment for homeless dumping against Kaiser Permanente for an incident earlier in the year where a 63 year old man was videotaped walking through homeless areas wearing only a hospital gown and socks. Dan Springer, a spokesman for Hollywood Presbyterian, did not confirm or deny that the van carrying the homeless man came from his medical center but said an internal investigation was under way. “We have, as do all hospitals, vans that transport patients. It’s a contracted service. We are ... looking into all the facts,” In May of 2007 on CBS, 60 Minutes aired a story based on the first rule in medicine being: do no harm. But doing harm is precisely what some Los Angeles hospitals are being accused of when it comes to patients who happen to be homeless. As CNN's Anderson Cooper reports, the claim is that hospitals don't like dealing with homeless patients, who are often uninsured and sometimes unpleasant to treat. So they literally dump them on the streets of Skid Row, even if the patients come from other places in Los Angeles, and are in no condition to fend for themselves. While there have been allegations of hospital dumping for years, people only started paying attention to them because of a videotape recorded by a camera outside a homeless shelter. In late April 2012 housing sales without sacrificing the kitchen sink are up, unemployment’s recovering, the threat of four dollar gas no longer spooks drivers which is why February and March SUV sales have hit incredible highs. You want to believe the perfectly chiseled faces of local newscaster’s wouldn’t share a tall tale about the economy’s battle hymn of the republic until you venture toward the other side of downtown Charlotte on a crisp early Sunday morning where being homeless is the popular vote and anything I have to say gets in the way of their survival. My stepfather Joe was never ending with his jagged as a sword accusations based on how he viewed my addiction to being glued to the news, “Stop trying to be a know it all!” Monday, April 30, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Twenty Three: WIFM Radio As confusing as it may sound I’m extremely disappointed that it took a yearlong blogging challenge to grab a sneak peak of the bitterly cold, heavily weathered crusted surface of what I’ve been taught about Homelessness. And I’m still nowhere near the first vein of its haunting, shameful and lingering presence. The layers are extremely thick. There are rarely two stories the same and if you come back tomorrow there’ll be another reason behind the iron curtain that hides the street skilled wandering traveler. Hungry seems to be the most used word. “Do you have something for me to eat?” Having a radio smile shine in your face is not the place when trying to connect with neighborhoods very few have heard of. My choice yesterday was to travel beyond the corners with privately owned grocery stores featuring outdoor signs that read: Bondsmen available for hire. Very rarely a car passed. The means of travel was by foot and if lucky fate had connected you to a Vespa. My being there was instantly noted. Like Native American warriors vowing to protect the already written, scouts from tree lined graves that once served as homes with real wooden walls and a furnace walked out one by one. Being over 80 degrees on the final Sunday in April 2012 male chests were bared and attitudes were fed by a need to know. Who was this fairly long haired visitor and why had he made this day a reason to walk into but not around the circles they shaped? Those I wanted to talk to quickly disappeared or stayed a block away never taking their well trained eye off me. I had brought with me four ten gallon trays of fresh hot spaghetti one of them was meatless; just in case someone was a vegetarian. The women but never the children were the first to crack the invisible case that separated our journeys. Toothless, clothing extremely thin, cigarettes unlit and souls worn inside out to make things more difficult to easily identify. “I’m hungry! Do you have something to drink?” A man, maybe in his early 30’s slowly walks by, I asked, “Can I fix you up a plate?” “I’m on duty! I can’t be eaten while I’m on duty.” A woman dressed in red, her hair the best she could make it interrupts my reasons for wanting to share. Staring into the passerby’s heart she shouts, “You better get over here because once you’re off duty you might be going back and they won’t have this kind of dinner for you!” He wasn’t shy. Only determined. To make it clear to all who stood watching; nothing was going to weaken his determination. He made a point, he was on duty and being on duty wasn’t something he’d be easily swayed from doing. A Grandfather asked for four plates while complaining about his children’s children, “I thought it was supposed to get easier. All they wanna do is fight and break things.” “Got something to drink? I’m really thirsty…” I too was thirsty. Hours earlier I had been introduced to a radio station that continuously scores the highest ratings in Charlotte. And never once does this radio station play a song. I just knew it was time to no longer play along. The radio station is WIFM Ever heard of it? Every station has a motto or a selling statement. This station whole heartedly believes that its pulsating rhythms in a solid message that all must live and drive. At WIFM they promote: What’s in it for me? Oh yeah…since beginning this blog in late November 2011 it seems to be the cutting edge promotion. The more I’ve been introduced, dug up and laid out for musicians, societies decision making figures and normal’s dipping into a vat of interest; the more I hear, “What’s in it for me?” Back in the early chapters I introduced you to a former homeless man Scott; I say former because just like a Marine you never stop being. Although Scott’s current moments are blessed with two incredibly successful businesses the fear of becoming homelessness happens every day. It’s a fierce bite that poisons the mind body and soul. Constantly he calls me to say, “****** ****** wanted to talk to me about my ideas that would help invite peace to people lives but the first thing anyone wants to talk about is: What’s in it for them?” But he doesn’t give up. Nor does Pastor Flo from Siegel Ave Presbyterian Church who dedicated a major chunk of unwanted, weed infested soil to a group that will stand under the hot sun of the Carolina’s and replenish the ground with valuable nutrients that’ll fortify the earth to bear fruit to be used to feed the hungry. It’s new name is Siegel Farm. What about Pastor Jonathan at First United Methodist Church uptown who has a team of hard working volunteers preparing food and drinks for the forgotten? I giggle a child’s grin when a man or woman leaves the street to sit on the chairs where Jonathan is sharing a life message and not a Bible thumper with too much bass and guitar to accept. When will you stop listening to WIFM? There was no need for the man of nearly 20 to approach me yesterday other than to fill his journey with protein and something to drink. He turned me down not once not twice or three times. While standing across the hot tarred street his voice rang clearly, “You don’t need to know that I’m hungry!” “You’re right…” I calmly returned. “I don’t think you’re hungry. Look at your abs man! I just wanna know how you got those abs!” He took one step, two three then ten. “I earned these abs. I have to give to my body. It’s the only thing I got.” “Here’s an idea let me get you some carbs so you can wake up your heart and feed your muscles with a great workout.” “Ok… I’ll do that!” WIFM… Monday, May 07, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Twenty Three: Jon Bon Jovi's Biggest Reach Jon Bon Jovi, to multitudes of women around the world he’s still the best looking thing to come from the 1980’s without letting the art of being a Rock Star destroy his honest Jersey face. He’s moved from having wild teased up hair to middle aged genuine which has fueled the reasons why nearly thirty years since inception the bands videos continue to electrify imaginations on VH1 Classics. Jon Bon Jovi; musician, actor, Hockey team owner and founder of the organization dubbed “Soul.” Jon has taken another John’s words of wisdom and let them catch fire on a hillside of doubt, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Alongside the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Jon’s fathered a way for new ideas to be born that reach into the center of a shadow and pull from it the men and women of our United States forces currently lost in a whirlwind of homelessness. The most recent numbers are staggering; according to of those who dedicated their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan there’s just over 5,900 members of our U.S. Military without shelter. (That we know of…) Through Jon Bon Jovi’s a unique specialized app called REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers) gives mobile citizens and caregivers correct information required to instantly help homeless veterans whenever and wherever it’s needed. The app connects our nations homeless to incredible resources available in a manner that breaks through politics, propaganda and every shape of a brick wall guaranteeing a community of support. How well does it work? There was a 12% drop in veteran homeless numbers in 2011. During a press conference Shaun Donovan the Secretary of House and Urban Development said, “I want to thank Jon Bon Jovi for being part of the effort and for using competition and innovation to advance the cause of ending homelessness.” One in six men and women alive today in the United States of America is homeless. According to the Veteran’s Administration 50% of them have served this country. Slowly digest that last paragraph again… This is why REACH with the aid of Jon Bon Jovi hasn’t walked away from the core of the chore; choosing instead to challenge computer geeks, IT Departments and other computer wiz’s young and old to help develop an even stronger method of connection. Instead of offering spare change…incorporate your Social Networking knowledge with President John F Kennedy’s unforgotten leadership and through every shift of an economy addicted to Wall Street’s gambling problem there can be peace before fear. What’s in it for you? The first five entries to meet the requirements will receive a $10,000 cash prize and the opportunity to test their app at the JBJ Soul Kitchen. The winner will receive a $25,000 prize. According to Bon Jovi "At the Soul Kitchen we've seen the need for a simple, user-friendly, comprehensive application that connects those in need to resources in their community," The goal is to seek out a solution capable of resolving the disconnect. They’ve found the VA, HUD and HHS to be of like mind. Taking John F Kennedy’s vision of doing something for your country, Bon Jovi and REACH believe that together we can provide the information about existing services - now we need the bright minds in the developer community to create a platform to tie it all together. Penicillin arrived by mistake through a presentation of mold. Can you imagine the possibilities behind the average person’s dinking around on a computer? Any idea is a brilliant idea! A single drop has the ability to generate enough energy to force a desert floor to be flooded. Ideas require conversation. It’s the Social Networking Generation! Your Face Book features people fully capable of lifting a moment into a landscape of positive change. President Obama has made it extremely clear, “No one who has fought for our country should ever be invisible to the American people," They fought for you…maybe it’s time you fight for them. Monday, May 14, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Twenty Four: Brown Grass Under White Picket Fences At times I feel as if I’ve shape shifted into the shell of actor Brendan Fraser battling demons too big for the surface therefore we’re forced to search the core of an underworld not so glamorous. From simple to unexpected conversations about homelessness undoubtedly leads to darker chapters not always found on the front pages of newspapers, magazines and individualized blogging sites. And yet I feel drawn to a deeper skin pour. One that’s irritated and infected. If it were a zit there’d be medicine. Homelessness has no cure just tons of people offering Band-Aids and bandages. The 2012 WEAP Conference was held over the weekend. This year’s message was aimed at a story written by Mike Rhodes in July of 2008 where elected officials in Fresno, California were accused of violating the civil liberties of the homeless. It’s every cities mandate to present itself as a clean community. At what cost? Mike’s story: Homeless people and their allies won a legal victory in Fresno that could have nationwide implications. The class action lawsuit against the City of Fresno resulted in a $2.3 million settlement and has stopped the city from taking and immediately destroying homeless people’s property. City officials, including Mayor Alan Autry, argued that the city had a right to keep city streets clean and that city sanitation workers were just doing their job. Government agencies in communities throughout the country make the same argument as they conduct sweeps through homeless encampments. The Federal Court in Fresno found that these sweeps are illegal and violate the 4th and 5th amendment of the U.S. constitution. The Women’s Economic Agenda Project pushed the 2008 story forward unveiling unheard of amounts of what many clearly call legalized theft. Mike’s report showcases how the actions conducted between 2004 – 06. Bikes, tents, clothing, identification and everything else of value had been taken away from its rightful owner. Mr. Al Williams, a homeless man, experienced three raids. He not only lost clothing and food but officials took his wife’s wheelchair while destroying required medicines. According to Al, “It felt like everything was taken away.” The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit was Pamela Kincaid who passed away in August of 2007. Pamela suffered from claustrophobia and found it to be extremely painful to be located in a shelter. During a raid she lost her birth certificate, address book and photos of family and friends. She had lost her identity. Mike Rhodes story reminds me of a Montana mountain highway with unheard amounts of unexpected twists in a road that should’ve gone through rather than over. Judge Oliver Wanger immediately issued an order that was delivered to City Hall by a Federal Marshal, for mayor Autry to appear before the court and explain why he was attacking the agreement that the City of Fresno and the homeless plaintiffs had voluntarily entered into. Speaking before judge Wanger, Autry said his problem with the settlement was that he “felt as if the homeless and all the people of Fresno had a gun to their head.” Looking at the plaintiff’s legal counsel, Autry said he felt the city was up against overwhelming power - “we are up against a group that will stop at nothing to win. These lawyer fees are outrageous.” Autry said “I believe the homeless were being taken advantage of here.” Autry’s portrayal of big city lawyers, coming to Fresno and taking advantage of the homeless, played for days in the local media. The mayor’s ability to shift the news away from the City of Fresno’s criminal attack on the homeless and gain traction with his attack on the ACLU and how out of town lawyers were exploiting the homeless was a tribute to his ability to manipulate corporate media and to re-frame the debate on this issue. Away from the internet I found sharing this story created several open wounds of reaction. While some cheered on the judicial system a few remained skeptical about their own city and state. Things got real hot during a debate where the exact words shot back at me were, “Cities are caught in the middle and nobody wins unless physical actions are taken.” They didn’t see anything wrong with the situation other than valuable court space had been disrespected claiming if you don’t pay taxes you don’t have vocal rights to any soil. Who wins? Are churches and non-profit organizations expected to be the soul providers? Pamela Kincaid won’t be the last American to lose her identity through a homeless raid. What’s the answer if the numbers of those abiding by the law believe paying taxes is the lost issue not civil liberties? At times I feel as if I’ve shape shifted into the shell of actor Brendan Fraser battling demons too big for the surface therefore we’re forced to search the core of an underworld not so glamorous. Wednesday, May 30, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America Page Twenty Five: I Saw The Sign Does anybody truly know where we stand? Depending on which newspaper reporter, television anchor or radio talk show host you've levitated toward there's barely a sip of harmony within the ranks of fully grasping the concept of where we stand in or out of the recession. Not knowing steals from the veins proper breathing and ease, business confidence and a normal person's willingness to grow forward. With so much uncertainty in the city, state and nation unrecognized sink holes continue to untie the strings and twigs that makeup manmade nests forcing families to let go. What my Grandparent's called "The American Dream" looks nothing like the burning embers of a stale campfire. You know that white dusty smoke that feverishly fights it way into your lungs igniting a coughing fit for ten or fifteen minutes! The campsite captain never warns of incoming visitors of copperhead snakes and gnats the size of Rhode learn as you go continuing to throw what you once owned away in trash cans already brimming with another families memories. I had no clue my very close and personal friend Roger was about to lose everything. I would've sacrificed my life to save him from the chapters he now writes. How do you know when someone's in trouble? There's got to be warning signs! There are seven things to look... #1 A lack of continuation in education. If a family member or friend has begun the process of not showing concern about their children not being in school...look into it! Ask simple questions without embarrassing them. According to the National Center of Homeless Education we should learn to recognize: Attendance at many different schools Lack of personal records needed to enroll Inability to pay fees Gaps in skill development Mistaken diagnosis of abilities Poor organizational skills Poor ability to conceptualize #2 Poor Health and Nutrition. What's the first thing people are willing to sacrifice? Medicine! Lack of immunizations and/or immunization records Unmet medical and dental needs Increased vulnerability to colds and flu Respiratory problems Skin rashes Chronic hunger (may horde food) Fatigue (may fall asleep in class) #3 Transportation problems Erratic attendance and tardiness Numerous absences Lack of participation in after-school activities Lack of participation in field trips Absences on days when students bring special treats from home Inability to contact parents #4 Poor Hygiene Lack of shower facilities/washers, etc. Wearing same clothes for several days Inconsistent grooming – well-groomed one day, poorly groomed the next #5 Lack of Privacy/Personal Space After School Consistent lack of preparation for school Incomplete or missing homework (no place to work or keep supplies) Unable to complete special projects (no access to supplies) Lack of basic school supplies Loss of books and other supplies on a regular basis Concern for safety of belongings Refusing invitations from classmates #6 Social and Behavioral Concerns A marked change in behavior Poor/short attention span Poor self esteem Extreme shyness Unwillingness to risk forming relationships with peers and teachers Difficulty socializing at recess Difficulty trusting people Aggression "Old" beyond years Protective of parents Clinging behavior Developmental delays Fear of abandonment School phobia (student wants to be with parent) Need for immediate gratification Anxiety late in the school day #7 Reactions/Statements by Parent, Guardian, or Child Exhibiting anger or embarrassment when asked about current address Mention of staying with grandparents, other relatives, friends, or in a motel Comments such as: "I don't remember the name of our previous school." "We've been moving around a lot." "Our address is new; I can't remember it." (may hide lack of permanent address) "We're staying with relatives until we get settled." "We're going through a bad time right now." "We've been unpacking, traveling, etc." (to explain poor appearance and/or hygiene) Nothing just happens...books begin with page one. Journey's can't exist without a first step. Being aware isn't a game of compassion it's genuine love. I will always believe in you first... Monday, June 11, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America: Page Twenty Seven: O.P.P. Mindlessly multitudes of many push their way through hourly mountain storms constantly working without play desperately trying not to spend hard to locate slivers of focus on O.P.P. (other people's problems) To be present in the community would, could, might have been or should be where you need to set up a miniature camp but getting control of personal time or required space to actively participate embarrassingly becomes chapters much too heavy to carry. Yet every day the local newspaper, headline chasing television broadcaster's and or church deacons find a crack in the sidewalk big enough to paint the image of a passerby that's somehow found a way to weigh out the separate sides of survival and become part of the plan to help invite peace to O.P.P. While hosting a promotional event inside North Carolina's largest mall, a radio listener clearly came through when describing why "Broadcaster's" rarely if ever participate in "Real World" fundraising, "Until you feel pain we'll always be in the way." What could I say? As a "Broadcaster" the industry has made it too easy to believe seven second mentions over someone's favorite song is how you get involved. Other examples include the typical digital word dumps typed onto computer faces giving off the scent of showcased community belief or quickly edited videos of hearts and souls in action, cleanly cut to feed the imagination followed by: You too can help. Sign up and help bring change." For there to be compassion followed by a willingness to mold action, does the reaction have to be influenced by the presence of destruction? What has to happen for there to be dedication, loyalty and determination? In July 2010 a Pastor's view influenced change not only on those that chose to congregate but contemplate survival on streets torn by decisions already made. Being locked in circles of digital devices and Social Media, video became the tool that shaped an association; the Pastor had visually painted the image of moving pictures that instantly introduced what had been "assumed" to a state of "now knowing." Their faces displayed in ways of recognition but this time there weren't fancy pictures to hide the eyes of a faceless beast of deception. It was "real" people they knew, laying on the ground, holding signs while wearing socks with giant holes in them which seemed shocking but nothing moved a selfish person more than taking note of the images being shot inside the bitter cold, snowy days Ohio was best known for. Silence might have been what most hearts tapped into but the lyrics of the song taped to the moving pictures offered a much larger imprint: I'm a man on the street holding a sign, I know what it says but look in my eyes, I need more than money..." Although his knees where bent his legs remained strong, the Pastor stood before those now knowing and gently shared, "You know what you need to do...DO IT!" For one person a life had to change. Not necessarily the man on the street but the lungs, hands, feet and warm hands belonging to their body, the very mind, body and soul that they carried with them every morning, noon and deep into the frozen night. She said to herself and everyone willing to listen, "It wasn't the voice of my pastor that I heard... It happened again and again... I went to the alter and just fell to the floor crying. I went to the alter a couple of weeks before and told God I was 'his' and and whatever 'he' wanted, I wanted. Wow! He took me up on that one!!! The following week was really indescribable... I would go to sleep and every night @ 3:00 a.m. I would wake up to that song and those images playing, and God saying, "GO! You know what to do!" She'd reply, "go where?" and the answer would always be the same..."GO!" A week melted quickly, then without a sign or mourning a simple Saturday afternoon, she bought two loaves of bread and a jar of peanut butter, water and crackers and away she walked... She describes her "now knowing" as, "I didn't know what I was doing, or where I was going...I just took my son and went... We found two people. And from there, I just kept going..." Today, Joyce Spears feeds forty to fifty people and has no clue a radio disc jock a thousand miles away has picked up her lyrics from the invisible strength of a forever wind. She doesn't realize the love she shares every day with homeless men and women has pushed through the tallest of mountains painting better visions for nonbelievers to hold something true in their empty hands. Joyce doesn't know that offering a slender African American man nicknamed Bill~Bill a place to shower, to wash his clothes and find heat to warm his toes would invite peace into the journeys and unspoken travels of millions like her. To find music inside a heart when the rest of the world continues to drive by. To make O.P.P. a priority on the boarders of life's every day changes. They say the most unappreciated person on earth are teachers. The pay is never great. In fact for many a proper education comes from what little a teacher finds inside his or her own pocket. Therefore value inside Joyce's day isn't based on dollar signs, the price of gold or savings at giant department stores. It's her loyalty to teaching that serves as an invitation to believe in hope and faith. Joyce never looks up and squeezes out the words, "God, "I don't have any money!" But she has the ability to teach. Getting only four to five hours a sleep per night, she works endlessly for those lost inside a process headed by business owners and local leaders that brag of helping but only in "Broadcast" ways. Because it looks great in print, displayed on moving pictures or talked about over the first seven seconds of someone's favorite song! Media is an incredible way to touch a passerby. But what are they really doing? It's time to reveal the true hearts of desire, the hero's of the road; the feet on the street, so cold and often alone but nothing stops teacher's like Joyce Spears from maintaining their "True North" proving that every day is Christmas and the treasures they lay before the bodies weakened by society isn't just food and clothing but lessons taught by teacher's with bad pay, barely a cent to their name, every reason to pull from away and yet there's a driving voice that keeps them awake late into the disappearance of time that introduces them to a new face frozen by doubt, fear and loneliness. Saying thank you isn't enough. Joyce are a modern day American Hero! Through your hearts song lives are changing and there aren't any words in this world that match the harmonies you create. Please don't ever stop teaching! Monday, June 18, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America: Page Twenty Eight: Not My Kid Too quickly we judge. Not quick enough we invest interest. Is it natural to think, "If it's not happening to me then it's not reality?" Inviting "Homelessness" to a conversation can be compared to sharing bad gas. People run, make faces point, stare but do nothing to clean the air! Pointless might be the cause but the effect is growing wider rings inside a square circle. While sitting with parents I never fear putting thoughts in their ears, "Your kids doing drugs yet? Are they sipping while you're zipping from job to job? Are their strokes coming from folks with easy to find tokes?" We know the typical response, "Not me, mine or theirs, never, not today or ever." Which is why I didn't skip past The Top Eleven Causes Of Teen Homelessness Primary Causes The primary causes of homelessness among youth are: family conflict or severe economic hardship. Foster Care Studies estimate that 20% of youth who arrive at shelters came directly from foster care, and more than 25% had been in foster care in the previous year. These youth age out of the foster care system and are discharged with no housing or income support. Find out more about foster care or read about Do Something's 2007 Brick Winner Ashley Rhodes-Courter, who did something about foster care Prison/Juvenile Corrections System For youth who are released from juvenile corrections facilities, many become homeless because they lack support systems and opportunities for work and housing. Abuse Some homeless youth have run away from homes where they were the victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. One study reports that more than four in ten youth report being beaten by a caretaker, and a quarter were either sexually abused or feared being sexually abused. Substance Abuse in the Home Others are running away from alcohol and drug abuse in the home. More than 40% of homeless youth report that one or both of their parents had at some point received treatment for alcohol, drug, or psychological problems. Substance Abuse by Youth A number are homeless because of their own addictions to drugs and/or alcohol. One study in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment contends that 85% of homeless youth have substance use disorders. Pregnancy A large number of homeless young women either ran away or were kicked out of the home due to pregnancy. A tenth of homeless and runaway girls are reportedly pregnant. Sexual Orientation Other homeless youth are forced to leave home because of their sexual orientation, that is, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. As many as 25% of LBGT teens are rejected by their families, and many end up homeless on the streets. Unaffordable Housing There are homeless youth that are employed but still can’t afford rent, food and other basic needs. Neglect Neglect and lack of emotional and financial support from their families can also cause youth homelessness. Mental Illness Mentally ill youth may end up homeless because they don’t have access to supportive housing and/or other treatment services. Still not you? Is it a fact, wish, prayer or something else out there? A reader writes: Somebody please help us. My daughter, with Asperger's Syndrome, is about to age out of foster care. No-one is helping me find out what to do because she is in her father's state, not mine. She can't stay with my family for very long without going back to old, possibly dangerous behaviors. She has threatened her sister with knives, has beaten me, and has been in foster care for four years of her adolescence. But I do love her. Can someone help me? Awareness begins with truth and or reason to seek the roots. Nobody is protected from Homelessness. The journey doesn't have to be you but it could very easily include you. Read more: Monday, June 25, 2012 2012 The Journey Back To America: Page Twenty Nine: Mommy Are You Homeless? Can you have four nicely decorated walls, a rain busting shingled roof over your head, heat on your feet and a well lit bathroom to use anytime the body calls out and still be homeless? Yes! Having no community is living day to day without connectedness. My purpose presented in taking this fifty two week walk was to never study what's already known but to play out the role of the silent wolf; to rest under a leafless limb and patiently watch. The bearded man lightly gripping handmade signs on the corner of South Blvd and Woodlawn is already covered by local television news directors that hire Emmy chasing reporters ordered to play the heart card. My endeavor is to physically step in puddles covered by well disguised acts of unrecognized courage that unexpectedly turn into larger than normal objects in rearview mirrors. When you think of "Homeless" what instantly comes to mind? The bearded man on the corner of South and Woodlawn is quite possibly an alcoholic. What about the twenty nine year old woman with two children, a very cute bright orange cat rescued from the Humane Society six weeks ago? A nice warm picture of their bright smiles sitting loosely inside her fashion designer purse purchased at South Park over the weekend. The photo easily attainable because without explanation it's got a way of continuing the feeling of accomplishment and compassion, a good deed performed while driving just under the speed limit inside an free for all air conditioned and beautifully waxed 2012 Lexus. Having no community is living day to day without connectedness. finds no reason to cover up what's noticeably visible. Alcoholism in stay-at-home moms is the quiet southern storm that instantly turns the sky into a wall of fire without the general public being forewarned by scientific methods of radar. Does this instantly qualify someone for a Homeless card? Depends on how you've been trained to identify what is and isn't homeless. If the subject is what you already know then what's available to learn? During author and spiritual leader Craig Groeschel lecture this past weekend he made it a point to identify direction. Your fingers look as if there's an answer to each accusation when in fact the end result of the conclusion is a difference between the poisons. Self abuse is often connected to cutters, drug abusers and shop-a-holics. What if someone heard the words you call yourself? What if your fears were spotted on digital I-77 billboards? The more you say, "I can't do this! Why are they beating me up at work? My life is over at 40! I have two kids, who wants an extremely tired mom or dad to help rebuild their bad economy stained strain to succeed." The weaker your dreams and true purpose becomes. When you find weakness there is no community therefore you live day to day without connectedness. Stay-at-home moms and dads are in a challenging position. Is it truly the dream job men and women want? writes: It often comes with a price. Women who have a propensity for addiction or who don't know how to cope with stress can end up in a bad situation. They might drink alcohol or do drugs to deal with the stress and loneliness that comes with this lifestyle. Usually alcoholism is a secondary problem for health and emotional issues that are not being addressed, such as depression or anxiety. Some of the other things that contribute to the problem of alcoholism in stay-at-home moms include: • Divorce • Job changes for a spouse • Weight gain • Total lack of free time • Fluctuations in hormones • Performance anxiety about raising children • Social withdrawal • Feeling out of control • Exhaustion or lack of sleep • Lack of appreciation In a weird strange way this list makes me laugh because in a weird strange way it looks just like the list written by the a bearded man holding a sign on the corner of South Blvd and Woodlawn. Having no community is living day to day without connectedness. I will always believe in you first...